SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The campaign for a constitutional fix to the “Marsy’s Law” victims’ bill of rights in South Dakota is running radio and television ads featuring public officials urging voters to support the changes at the ballot.
Marsy’s Law for South Dakota spokeswoman Sarah Shriver said in a statement the spots from the “significant” TV ad buy started airing last week and will run through the June 5 election. They feature Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, House Speaker Mark Mickelson and domestic violence survivor Jacquelyn Galles.
Officials say Marsy’s Law has caused unintended consequences since it passed in 2016. At least three large counties hired new people to work with victims, privacy provisions in the amendment have curtailed the information that some law enforcement agencies release to the public to help solve crimes and prosecutors’ offices must now track down and notify a broader swath of victims about their cases.
It’s is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California college student who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. In South Dakota, Mickelson initially proposed getting rid of the amendment but instead reached a deal with the Marsy’s Law campaign during this year’s legislative session.
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The proposed changes in Constitutional Amendment Y would require victims to opt in to many of their rights and specifically allow authorities to share information with the public to help solve crimes.
Shriver said in a Thursday email the campaign’s grass-roots team has been focused on voter outreach and education. The California businessman that bankrolled Marsy’s Law in 2016 has donated $450,000 to fund the new campaign, and there’s no organized opposition.
“Our advocates and volunteers have been very vocal in our communities,” Shriver said. “It’s been our mission to inform constituents about Amendment Y and victims’ rights.”
An Argus Leader and KELO-TV poll released Thursday found more likely Republican voters support the amendment than oppose it, but support still fell short of a majority with nearly a quarter of respondents undecided. The poll didn’t survey non-Republicans, who will also be able to vote on the measure.
However, only Republicans have statewide primary races, making it likely they will dominate voting on the ballot measure. Forty-seven percent of poll respondents said they would vote for the amendment, 29 percent said they would vote against it and 24 percent were undecided.
Florida-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy’s telephone poll of 625 registered South Dakota Republican voters was conducted May 21-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.