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PIERRE | More than a year before November 2020's election, South Dakota legislators and the Secretary of State's Office have clarified several state rules on the elections process.

The Legislature's Interim Rules Committee approved the rules Monday, many of which were to clean up rules in order to adhere to legislation passed in 2018.

One rule change requires local elections offices to publish petition deadline notices earlier in the year, thereby giving candidates more of a heads-up before signatures are due.

Previously, elections offices weren't required to publish the notice until 10 to 15 days before petitions were due, leaving a short window for candidates. With the rule change, elections offices will be required to issue notices between Jan. 15 and 30 of election years.

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Additionally, the legislators approved a rule change requiring legislative candidates to include their district number as well as whether they are a state House or Senate candidate on their petitions for candidacy. If this information is not included on the petition, none of the petition's signatures will be counted.

The legislators also approved changes to the state's voter registration form. Now, the forms will include a disclaimer that should a registrant leave their political affiliation unanswered, they will automatically be registered as their previous party, or as independent or unaffiliated if they were not previously registered to vote.

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