“PIERRE — In Attorney General Marty Jackley’s first address to the Senate Judiciary committee since he was elected in November, the highest law enforcement officer in South Dakota asked for two bills to be considered that tackle election integrity.
The bills, one to establish a penalty for petition circulation perjury and one to update penalties for election law violations, passed out of committee Thursday and will now head to the Senate floor for hearing.
Jackley described the bills as strengthening election laws and “the trust that go with those laws.”
If passed, the petition circulation perjury would find anyone in violation of intentionally falsifying their petition, either for constitutional office, an initiated measure or a constitutional amendment, for election under oath guilty of a class 6 felony.
A class six felony is punishable with up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
“I think if somebody is going to lie under oath in a courtroom or in relation to their election, it’s serious and it should be enforceable,” Jackley said.
The second bill would establish penalties for election laws that are currently exempt from punishment. Any election law in statute that doesn’t have a penalty would be updated to become a class 2 misdemeanor if someone is found in violation of the specific law.
A class 2 misdemeanor can place someone in jail for up to 30 days with a $500 fine.
“If monies that are public tax dollars are inappropriately used for elections, I can’t do anything about it,” Jackley said when highlighting the election law exemptions. “We’re just simply asking for that slight change to allow us to be able to prosecute crimes that the Legislature has already said there were crimes, but we just don’t have an enforcement power.”
Jackley said applying the punishment was a first step, and at a later date, the legislature could come together to work on laws creating harsher punishments for penalties, like tampering with absentee ballots.”
Read more here at Argus Leader