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Secretary of State rules one Libertarian candidate can be on ballot

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant certified one disputed Libertarian candidate for the November election ballot but ruled another ineligible.

The issue was whether attorney general candidate Chad Haber and Public Utilities Commission candidate Ryan Gaddy switched their party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian in time to conform with a state law that requires candidates to be members of the party that nominates them.

Gant ruled Monday that Haber complied with the law but Gaddy didn't, the Argus Leader reported.

Haber and Gaddy filled out forms to change their party registrations shortly before each won the state Libertarian Party's nomination on Aug. 9.

Gant said Haber's party switch was valid because he filled out his form at a recognized voter registration facility the day before the convention. Gaddy filled out his change-of-registration form at the Saturday convention, and it wasn't filed until later.

"He was considered a Republican at the time of nomination," Gant wrote in his certification letter. "Therefore, Ryan Gaddy cannot be certified as candidate for public utilities commissioner."

Gaddy said he will ask a judge to overrule Gant, whose decision he called "the state sticking its nose in the Libertarians' business."

Gant intends to start printing ballots for the fall election on Sept. 3, though a judge could order a delay.

Gant received legal advice on the matter from former South Dakota Attorney General Mark Meierhenry, who is now in private practice. Gant's normal legal adviser, the attorney general's office, withdrew from the case because of a possible conflict of interest. Democrats did not nominate a candidate for the office, meaning Attorney General Marty Jackley would not have had a challenger in the fall election had Haber been ruled ineligible to run.

Haber said he was glad to be added to the ballot but considered the decision regarding Gaddy "arbitrary and unfair."