Absentee voting proved so cumbersome for Maj. Anthony Deiss when the Army National Guardsman was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 that he admits he “didn’t take advantage of it.” But that was then. Now thanks to technological advancements that will be unveiled Monday by Secretary of State Jason Gant, South Dakota service members stationed overseas are going to have a new online option for absentee voting. And Deiss, for one, is all for it. “The right to vote is a fundamental principle of freedom, the freedoms our people are fighting for,” the Rapid City guardsman said Friday. “What better way to show that and exercise that right by giving them another option for voting in a war zone? I think that is very symbolic.”
Gant offered no details about the new technology ahead of Monday’s 10 a.m. news conference at the South Dakota National Guard complex near the airport in Sioux Falls. But he did note in a news release that the state is working on the effort with the Federal Voters Assistance Program in Washington, D.C., as well as with the Department of Defense.
In fact, Lt. Col. Reid Christopherson of the 114th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard said he understands South Dakota is among the first states to take advantage of this national initiative.
“From visiting with staff members who have worked on it, I understand this is literally groundbreaking on a national level, which is pretty cool,” said Christopherson, executive officer for the 114th. “If anybody is going to take the initiative on something that will benefit service members, it’s no surprise South Dakota as a state would be doing it.”