On the second Saturday of July, about 30 (as best we can forecast) people will assemble in a banquet room attached to Pro's Bar and Grill in Vermillion, the seat of literacy in South Dakota. We 30-or-so will represent the hopes and dreams of at least another hundred South Dakotans. The South Dakota Libertarian Party is not to be taken lightly, nor should the prospects of what we will decide is our strategy for the next two years be taken lightly.
The criterion for the LP to have its name listed on ballots or to be an option as a political party under which one may register to vote is the percentage of votes the LP's nominee for governor receives. Obtaining 2.5% of the vote for governor allows the LP to remain an "official" party until the next election.
Nathan Barton got about 4% of the vote in 1994. I got 1.7% in 1998. No one has broken 2% since then. One of the major expenses for the Libertarian Party of the United States has been to petition for ballot access in states like So. Dak., so that the LP's presidential candidate can run as a Libertarian in that state. You will be able to vote for Gary Johnson in November in South Dakota.
The vote for libertarian candidates in general elections always exceeds, in great numbers, the actual LP registration numbers. Since most elections are decided by less than 5% of the vote, the siphoning off of votes to a libertarian candidate is an issue that can't be ignored by the Republican and Democrat in the race. It sometimes even forces them to advocate positions that differ from one another.
It costs the LP about $30000 to pay people to petition at fairs and rodeos and on public sidewalks to get enough signatures of SD voters who say, "Sure. Let Libertarians advertise as Libertarians." That 30 grand could be put to a lot better use, like promoting Libertarian philosophy in a much less annoying manner.
I expect the SDLP convention to be consumed with discussion of possible ways to come closer to 2.5% in the vote for whomever we nominate to get slaughtered in the 2014 governor election.