Home > SD 2014 Ballot, South Dakota > SD Libertarian SOS candidate Emmett Reistroffer at the Alt Candidate Forum

SD Libertarian SOS candidate Emmett Reistroffer at the Alt Candidate Forum

August 26, 2014
Libertarian SD SOS candidate Emmett Reistroffer speaking at the Alternative Candidate Forum. Photo by Ken Santema.

Libertarian SD SOS candidate Emmett Reistroffer speaking at the Alternative Candidate Forum. Photo by Ken Santema.

On Saturday, August 23, there was an Alternative Candidates Forum held in Sioux Falls. One of the guest speakers in attendance for the event was the Libertarian candidate for SD Secretary of State (SOS) Emmett Reistroffer. Reistroffer will be facing off against three candidates on the ballot this fall: Republican Shantel Krebs, Constitution Party Lori Stacey, and Democrat Angelia Schultz. This forum gave me a chance to hear Reistroffer actually talk about his plans for the SOS office.

Reistroffer spent a good amount of time going into his political history. At 24 years old he actually has quite a bit of political involvement. He got started working with Democrat campaigns, then had some experience with Republican campaigns. Reading Ron Paul’s book The Revolution seemed to have changed his opinion on how government should operate. I think what makes Reistroffer a good Libertarian candidate is that he sees there are good solutions from both the Democrat and Republican parties; and from Independent and third-party candidates. His aim doesn’t appear to be to divide government, but work on solutions to create a more efficient government.

In his political consulting business he has worked with all fifty Secretary of State offices around the country. This was part of a project comparing Secretary of State processes. During that process Reistroffer found the State of South Dakota has one of the biggest messes to clean up in regards to election laws. Reistroffer says SD has “a laundry list of outdated and unconstitutional election codes.” He said there are enough issues in South Dakota election code to write a book about. A couple of examples brought up by Reistroffer include felons voting and suppressing early voting on the reservations.

Reistroffer’s first order of business as SOS would be to call on the Governor and Legislature to create an election reform task-force. This would be similar to the task-forces created for education and criminal justice reform. He mentioned there have been a number of lawsuits against the SOS office this year that could have been avoided if the election code wasn’t setup to favor the establishment.

Reistroffer mentioned voting by mail. He has solutions to receive ballots without putting extra steps on Auditors offices. Other states are able to do this successfully. He noted that some would resist this change due to voter fraud. Yet Reistroffer contends that voter fraud comes from the establishment by blocking candidates, tracking them, and selectively enforcing election laws. He even gave a couple of well-known examples of the establishment selectively enforcing election laws: Brian Gosch notarizing his own petition and the case of a County Auditor coming in after hours to switch parties for a candidate that wanted to run for office. He noted the system will bend over backwards for establishment candidates, and he considers Democrats part of the establishment. Reistroffer says the Democrats in SD are just as concerned about keeping the power structure as it is, just like the Republicans in charge want the two power structure maintained.

If elected to the SOS office Reistroffer noted he would step down as Chairman of the SD Libertarian Party. He sees nothing wrong with running for SOS office and maintaining his position as the SDLP Chair. However if he becomes SOS he will immediately step down as Chair and focus on making the SOS office non-partisan. I think this should be a top priority for all four candidates in the SOS race. Once elected, the new SOS will have to show the office will not be a part of some of the partisan hi-jinks the current office has been accused of.

Reistroffer then went on the business side of the SOS office. He said as a Libertarian he is all about limiting government and making it more efficient. A big part of that plan as SOS would be to call on the Legislature and Governor to transfer the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) through phases to the SOS office. He understands the SOS does not have the power to make this change, so he would work with the Legislature and Governor to try getting such a change supported and changed by law. Such a move by GOED would allow the State to create a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs could get all of the information they need from State Government in the most appropriate way. Reistroffer noted the SOS office is procedural and bookkeeping; while the Governors office is political. He said by having GOED fall under the Governors office “it naturally creates cronyism”. This is a proposal I really like and plan to do a separate post on in the future. It is worth looking deeper into.

He wants to model some functions of the SOS office after Colorado. The SOS office in Colorado is more proactive about letting candidates know about upcoming elections. He still receives alerts from doing work with Colorado. Such a change in SD would help candidates and business owners know what is expected to be filed and when. I really like Reistroffer’s idea here. As a consultant to small business and as someone who follows election I see this as a change that is needed now. Hopefully whoever wins the office will run with this idea.

Reistroffer also mentioned an education initiative. He would offer workshops, public input hearings, and seminars for areas related to the SOS office. This would be for candidates, small business owners, or anyone using the services of the SOS office. I will note that the current SOS has a start to this with some informational videos. Building upon that would be a good starting point.

Another area he wants to work on is improving voter turnout. Other states have embraced online voter registration, and Reistroffer thinks that would get a larger portion of younger voters to participate if online voter registration was available. I agree, the current system seems somewhat outdated.

Finally he would advocate that redistricting is done by computer generated means. Reistroffer admitted it is the job of the Legislature to assign the committee that does redistricting. However he says the SOS has the responsibility to ensure fair elections. As such he would want to advocate that redistricting is done in a manner that cannot be seen as gerrymandering. Reistroffer also mentioned there would likely be more Democrats serving in Pierre if not for the previous redistricting. But he noted the Democrats are not innocent in this matter, they worked out a deal to keep District 10 and District 15 very blue so the Democrats can keep those seats. I think this another idea all SOS candidates should pick up on.

Overall I thought Reistroffer did much better than I thought he would. I actually hadn’t had the opportunity to hear Reistroffer speak about his SOS campaign before. Part of me feared he would focus purely on election reforms, because of his experience there. But he does have some thoughts about bringing both the election and business side of the SOS office into the future. And most notably, I think his idea of removing GOED from the Governor’s office and placing it under the SOS is an interesting idea worth debating. It should be interesting to see how Reistroffer and Krebs do with their visions of the SOS office going in to the upcoming SOS debate.

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  1. October 1, 2014 at 7:23 am
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