Judge orders Gant to change ballot guide

A judge today ordered Secretary of State Jason Gant to include an opposition statement written by a state senator in his ballot issue guide.

That senator, Rapid City Republican Stan Adelstein, had sued Gant to require the statement opposing a constitutional amendment, Amendment P.

Adelstein argued Gant was legally required to include his opposition statement on the guide to ballot questions, which Gant published in late August.

The guide included supporter and opponent statements for two referred laws and an initiated measure, but four constitutional amendments had only supporter statements.

Adelstein’s lawsuit only addressed Amendment P, not the other three amendments with no opposition statements.

Gant said he had done due diligence to seek out opposition statements for amendments, but received no response.

Judge Mark Barnett granted Adelstein’s request to require Gant to include his Amendment P opposition statement.

After the ruling, Gant updated the digital copy of the ballot guide, and said he would begin printing 25,000 new versions at an estimated cost of $6,500.

Gant said in an email he would not be recalling the existing ballot guide pamphlets lacking Adelstein’s statement.

In a statement, Gant pronounced himself “satisfied” with Barnett’s ruling, saying it allowed him to alter the ballot guide and “publish more information to the voters.”

Adelstein’s initial request and subsequent lawsuit were both made after early voting began on Sept. 21. Gant said that was an “implied deadline” that made him reluctant to change the guide.

Adelstein claimed victory in a statement, and said he would consider trying to impeach Gant in the 2013 legislative session.

The lawsuit was the latest step in a feud between Adelstein and Gant. Earlier this year, Adelstein requested an attorney general’s investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Gant. That investigation exonerated Gant, but didn’t appease Adelstein.

Amendment P adds an balanced budget requirement to South Dakota’s constitution. Several existing parts of the constitution essentially require balanced budgets, but doesn’t explicitly require it.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed Amendment P, saying an explicit requirement could improve South Dakota’s credit rating.

Adelstein opposes Amendment P, saying it would actually weaken the state’s balanced budget requirement by encouraging manipulation of budget projections.

Read Adelstein’s lawsuit and Gant’s reply.