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Krebs, legislators work to repair election laws after 2015 disarray

PIERRE --Secretary of State Shantel Krebs needs some big help fast from the Legislature to have South Dakota's election laws ready for the June primaries.

PIERRE --Secretary of State Shantel Krebs needs some big help fast from the Legislature to have South Dakota's election laws ready for the June primaries.

The House Local Government Committee endorsed five bills Thursday from Krebs and the state Board of Elections.

No one testified against any of them. The committee voted 13-0 for each one.

Many of the changes are necessary to correct a problem caused by partisan exuberance in the 2015 session.

Republican legislators last year rolled an assortment of additions into Krebs' SB 69.

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Democrats and independents objected and after the 2015 session ended they referred SB 69 to a statewide public vote, putting its various provisions on hold until this November.

That left Krebs, the state Board of Elections and county auditors across South Dakota in a mish-mash, with new laws that didn't match existing laws that SB 69 was supposed to change.

For example, Krebs attempted last year to adjust the filing deadline for candidates ahead by one month. Some of the changes became law but others lay trapped in SB 69.

Now, she is trying to sort through what needs to be done immediately for this year's elections.

State laws in South Dakota normally take effect July 1 unless they are passed with an emergency clause.

Krebs now needs to turn to emergency clauses in several instances. An emergency clause requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

For example, the deadline that became law in 2015 for challenging a candidate's petition in court now falls prior to the filing deadline for a candidate.

The old filing deadline for candidates remains in place because of the referral of SB 69.

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The full House of Representatives will deal with the five 2016 bills possibly as early as today or Monday when lawmakers return from their weekend break.

Among the highlights:

*HB 1033 defines independent, no political party and other for voter registration purposes. Democrats allow that broad group to vote in Democratic primaries. This bill comes with an emergency clause. The measure also clarifies that any registered voter regardless of political party can run as an independent candidate.

*HB 1034 clarifies the notification process for special district elections where the only voters are landowners in the district. It also clarifies the election process for a county's voters deciding whether to change the county's name. This bill comes with an emergency clause.

*HB 1035 repeals a redundant overseas voting requirement. It also repeals the requirement that the secretary of state must approve the plan beforehand for a jurisdiction to use voting centers. And it removes the possibility the secretary of state would run a local election delayed by an emergency such as weather.

*HB 1036 revises many provisions for campaign finance reporting. Among the changes are deadlines for ballot-measure committees to file termination reports after the election cycle.

*HB 1037 strengthens identification requirements on petitions so that each petition sponsor must be listed by name and address.

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