Aaron Aylward, chair of the South Dakota libertarian party, and George Hendrickson, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House, talk about the struggles of getting your name on the ballot as member of a smaller political party. Sam Caravana / Argus Leader
Aaron Aylward (right), chair of the South Dakota libertarian party, and George Hendrickson (left), Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House, talk about the struggles of getting your name on the ballot as member of a smaller political party. (Photo: Sam Caravana / Argus Leader)Buy Photo
Two minor political parties took the state of South Dakota to court this week in a bid to unlock a political system that has long been dominated by the Republican and Democratic parties.
Both the Libertarian and Constitution parties say state laws make it hard to get candidates on the ballot. Their challenge comes at a time when more voters are opting out of the two-party system.
It might be easy to dismiss the arguments as a series of complaints from disgruntled party activists, but the plaintiffs say the issues are less about parties and more about choices.
The difference came up early in the trial, during Deputy Attorney General Rich Williams’ opening argument.
“The right to run for office is not a fundamental right,” Williams said, sparking this interjection from Judge Lawrence Piersol:
“Yes, but the right to vote for the candidate of your choice is.”
That right is why Brandon resident and plaintiff Joy Howe joined the Constitution Party in the first place.
“The idea that two parties will represent the views of everybody in this country is patently false,” Howe said in court. “When we’re