Zogby Poll: South Dakota Amendment E (JAIL) Support at 67%
BY BOB ELLIS
According to the Zogby poll conducted yesterday of 504 South Dakota likely voters, 67% say they will vote for Amendment E. Those who say they will vote against the measure are 19.8% and 13.2% are “not sure.” The poll has a +/- 4.5% margin.
The question asked of poll respondents was as follows:
Amendment E called the Judicial Accountability Amendment will be on the ballot this November. The amendment would allow the creation of a citizen's oversight committee or special grand jury which would hear complaints of alleged judicial misconduct against judges. If a judge is found guilty three times of having engaged in judicial misconduct, he or she would be removed from office and could never serve in any judicial capacity in South Dakota again. Will you vote for Amendment E or will you vote against Amendment E?
Democrats say they will support the measure by 69.8%, Republicans by 62.2%, Independents by 72.5% and all three Libertarians polled said they would support the amendment.
Democrats made up 32% of the total surveyed, Republicans 46%, Independents 21% and about 0.6% Libertarians. In the June 2006 primary, the breakdown of registered voters for South Dakota was 47.68% Republican, 37.97% Democrat, .22% Libertarian, .07% Constitution, and 14.06% "other."
The West River area leads East River support with 74.2%, but East River comes in at a considerable 65.1% support.
The 18-29 age group leads in support at 71.3%, with the least support from the 65+ age bracket at 65.2%.
Males support the measure slightly more than females (68.9% to 65.3%), with the greatest support among income brackets at 73.8% for the $50-75K range.
The religious breakdown has Catholics with the greatest support at 70.8%, Protestants at 63.2% and “other” supporting the measure by 74.2%.
The Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (JAIL), known as Amendment E on the November 7 ballot, has generated a tremendous amount of controversy in the past year.
Stegmeier, the chief sponsor of the amendment, says the measure is intended to create a “citizen oversight committee” to hear and try complaints against judges for judicial misconduct. Stegmeier says the normal process for addressing judicial misconduct is insufficient because of the doctrine of judicial immunity which prevents judges from being sued for their official actions.
During the 2006 legislative session, practically every legislature in South Dakota came out against the measure because many believe it will not only subject judges—the principle target of the measure—to potential lawsuit, but also almost every other public official, down to school board members. The South Dakota legislature passed a resolution against the JAIL amendment with a 67-0 vote in the House and a 34-0 vote in the Senate.
The measure was also the subject of a recent lawsuit which asked for the official ballot explanation for Amendment E to be changed; the lawsuit ended with only a one-word change being approved by the court.