South Dakota

Articles about voting issues in South Dakota.

South Dakota: Daugaard signs bill eliminating voter-approved ethics law | Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Thursday signed House Bill 1069, effectively repealing a voter-approved campaign finance and ethics law set into statute as Initiated Measure 22. Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it will take effect immediately. That means the law that calls for establishing an independent state ethics commission, setting strict new limits on gifts to lawmakers, and creating publicly financed campaign credits became history in South Dakota. “The circuit court enjoined Initiated Measure 22, finding it unconstitutional ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ It has not been in effect, and it is extremely unlikely that it would ever come into effect,” Daugaard said in a statement. “For that reason, it makes sense to repeal this unconstitutional measure.”

Full Article: Daugaard signs bill eliminating voter-approved ethics law | Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

South Dakota: Lawmakers vote to gut ethics and campaign finance law, call on voters to ‘give us a chance’ | Argus Leader

The committee room felt like a courtroom Monday as lawmakers got an opportunity to cross-examine and strike back at supporters of an ethics law that campaigned on a message that South Dakota legislators are corrupt. In a joint meeting of the Senate and House State Affairs Committees lawmakers for more than two hours considered a bill that would repeal the extensive ethics and campaign finance law narrowly approved by South Dakota voters as Initiated Measure 22. Republican lawmakers grilled supporters of the law and asked them to substantiate claims set forth in their campaign. The House committee approved the repeal on a 10-3 vote then asked that South Dakota voters give them a chance to win back their trust.

Full Article: Lawmakers vote to gut ethics law, call on voters to 'give us a chance'.

South Dakota: State elections office struggling to find records for federal audit | Capital Journal

The audit is looking at how South Dakota had used hundreds of thousands of dollars received through the federal Help America Vote Act program established after the 2000 presidential election. Documents from the past needed for the audit aren’t available in some instances and some past spending is under question whether it was allowable, according to Krebs. Kristin Gabriel now is the HAVA coordinator on Krebs’ staff. Gabriel told state Board of Elections members during their meeting Thursday that HAVA is undergoing an audit that reaches back 13 years to the initial funding period. “We did our best and provided them what we had and what we could find,” Gabriel said.

Full Article: State elections office struggling to find records for federal audit | Local News Stories |

South Dakota: By state law, voters allowed only 10 minutes to vote on lengthy ballot measures | Rapid City Journal

I could end up in jail on Election Day. Ever since graduating from college as a liberal arts major several decades ago, I’ve always asserted I’m equally ignorant in every academic area. But, after writing a few dozen books and several thousand newspaper and magazine articles, I always thought I could read. That is, until I tried to digest a sample ballot for next month’s general election in South Dakota. It took me nearly 20 minutes, and that was only to decipher the scaled-down version of the numerous and complicated measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. The problem is, according to South Dakota state statute 12-18-15, which carries the ominous heading, “Voting without delay — Maximum time in booth or machine — Re-entry prohibited,” by law I’ll only have 10 minutes to cast my ballot that Tuesday. Forget the contentious presidential election. Discount the congressional races. Disregard who is running for the state Legislature or the PUC. Those are easy decisions.

Full Article: By state law, voters allowed only 10 minutes to vote on lengthy ballot measures | Local |

South Dakota: Krebs: Law prohibits write-in votes in election | Plainsman

Disillusioned voters who don’t like any of the presidential candidates in the Nov. 8 general election may be tempted to write in another name. Doing so is not allowed by state law, said Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. “What it doesn’t do is it does not throw the entire ballot out,” she said at a Beadle County Republican Party campaign luncheon in Huron on Monday. “That’s the misconception right now,” she said. “Your ballot is still marked race by race. Any race not marked is not counted.” The intense interest in the presidential race between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is prompting the national media to regularly call secretaries of state across the country. Krebs said she also gets as many as 1,500 e-mail inquiries a day in her office.

Full Article: Plainsman Krebs: S.D. law prohibits write-in votes in election.

South Dakota: Amendment V groups clash over campaign finance accusation | Argus Leader

Two organizations that urged supporters to donate money to a ballot committee that is promoting a constitutional amendment in South Dakota denied Thursday that they broke state campaign finance laws. The Vote Yes on V campaign took contributions from two outside groups, Open Primaries and, that raised and collected money explicitly to back the ballot measure. While outside groups are free to donate money to ballot committees like Yes on V, state law forbids those organizations from contributing money that was “raised or collected by the organization for the purpose of influencing the ballot question.” In at least two instances, Open Primaries and solicited donations citing their efforts to fund the South Dakota amendment, said Will Mortenson, the chairman of Vote No on V. In an email last month, Open Primaries urged its supporters to donate money to Vote Yes on V, which the group promised to match two-to-one to help fund Vote Yes on V television ads. also released an email to supporters this week endorsing Amendment V.

Full Article: Amendment V groups clash over campaign finance accusation.

South Dakota: After failing in Pierre, redistricting forces turn to ballot | Associated Press

After years of trying to get South Dakota legislators to surrender control of redistricting to an independent commission, supporters of the idea are trying to do it instead through a constitutional amendment. Backers say the measure before voters this November would eliminate lawmakers’ conflict of interest and make people feel elections are fair to all parties. “It’s time for fair representation. Period,” said Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson, who has backed at least nine independent redistricting measures since 2009. “I’m not saying it’ll be perfect, but I’m certainly thinking it will be better than the method that we have now.” Opponents — including majority Republicans — say the current system is working fine. “The idea, I think, is to elect people that are more in line with liberal ideas as far as spending money and a whole host of issues,” said GOP Rep. Jim Bolin, who served on the commission that oversaw the last redistricting plan in 2011.

Full Article: After failing in Pierre, redistricting forces turn to ballot | The Herald.

South Dakota: State trying to improve electoral processes | Rapid City Journal

The State Board of Elections adopted 45 pages of rules changes Monday in order to to keep up with South Dakota’s changing politics. The proposals covered establishing governments for new cities, adopting armed sentinel programs in school districts, filling city and school board vacancies after resignations, conducting random samples of petition signatures for statewide candidates and on statewide ballot measures, and many more. Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson was the only person who testified and wasn’t a board member. She pointed out several times how the rules might be better written.

Full Article: State trying to improve electoral processes | Local |

South Dakota: Pierre company making splash on election nights throughout country | Capital Journal

A Pierre software company is weaving an electronic path between millions of election-night ballots and the media who report them. The company, BPro, is owned by Brandon and Abbey Campea and employs 12 programmers who write election software called “TotalVote.” “When a person votes on Election Day, the ballot is counted by a tabulator and then transferred into our system,” explains Campea. “Our software reports the results and provides them to the media outlets.” He adds, “We’re the official people who know the results before anyone else.” BPro staff are the first-receivers of election results in South Dakota and six other states—Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii, New Mexico and most recently Oregon, as well as Sacramento County in California and 11 Minnesota counties. It’s a quick turn-around that’s months in the making. “We begin preparing way ahead. For instance, New Mexico’s primary is in June, but we began testing the system in January … six months early.”

Full Article: Pierre company making splash on election nights throughout country | News |

South Dakota: Lawmaker wants to purge nomadic RVers from voting rolls | Rapid City Journal

Newly introduced legislation seeks to reduce the influence of nomadic recreational-vehicle owners on South Dakota elections. State Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, last week introduced a bill that would essentially forbid the use of a mail-forwarding service as an address for voter registration. “It’s intended to make sure that people that vote in our elections here have at least some connection to South Dakota,” Tieszen said in a recent Journal interview, “and to make sure those people who do not have a connection to South Dakota do not participate in our elections.” The bill targets nomadic recreational-vehicle owners, known as RVers, and others who use mail-forwarding services such as Americas Mailbox near Rapid City, whose address is listed by nearly 3,500 registered voters. Those voters do not actually live at the address but pay the business to help them establish a postal address, forward their mail and sometimes assist with other things including driver licensing, vehicle registration and concealed-weapon permitting.

Full Article: Lawmaker wants to purge nomadic RVers from voting rolls | Legislature |

South Dakota: Krebs, legislators work to repair election laws after 2015 disarray | The Daily Republic

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs needs some big help fast from the Legislature to have South Dakota’s election laws ready for the June primaries. The House Local Government Committee endorsed five bills Thursday from Krebs and the state Board of Elections. No one testified against any of them. The committee voted 13-0 for each one. Many of the changes are necessary to correct a problem caused by partisan exuberance in the 2015 session. 

Full Article: Krebs, legislators work to repair election laws after 2015 disarray | The Daily Republic.

South Dakota: Secretary of State approves nonpartisan election measure for ballot | Associated Press

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs says an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing nonpartisan elections will appear on the November ballot. Krebs says the measure’s sponsor turned in more than 44,000 signatures to her office. A 5-percent random sampling determined that 67.8 percent of the signatures the 29,924 signatures were in good standing, more than 2,000 above what is necessary for an amendment. 

Full Article: South Dakota Secretary of State approves nonpartisan election measure for ballot.

South Dakota: End-Run on Native Rights—Will It Work? | ICTMN

A South Dakota county fighting the voting-rights lawsuit Poor Bear v. Jackson County has asked the court to dismiss it. The November 13 request followed Jackson County striking a deal with South Dakota’s secretary of state and top elections official, Shantel Krebs. The motion to dismiss also followed a missed early-November court deadline, when the county failed to submit an expert report supporting its election procedures. In the agreement with Secretary Krebs, Jackson County consented to spending long-allotted funding to open a satellite registration and absentee-voting office for the next four federal elections in Wanblee, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Jackson County handles elections in this portion of Pine Ridge but has refused to access Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money for a full-service polling place.

Full Article: End-Run on Native Rights—Will It Work? -

South Dakota: Jackson County settles, but early voting court case not over | Argus Leader

Jackson County has decided to give up the fight about opening an in-person early voting center in Indian Country, making it the last county to do so. County officials signed an agreement with the state authorizing an in-person early voting station in Wanblee, which has a heavy Native American population. Various tribes and voting rights advocates have been asking counties to open voting stations in towns with large Native American populations, arguing that impoverished Indians couldn’t make the trip to county seats to cast early votes. Jackson County was the lone holdout, even after state officials had indicated that the county could use state Help America Vote Act funds to cover the expenses of opening a satellite voting station at Wanblee. The agreement means that the state will fund, and Jackson County will staff, an early voting station through the 2022 election.

Full Article: County settles, but court case not over.

South Dakota: Activists submit 8 ballot measures to secretary of state | Associated Press

Backers of eight ballot measures ranging from allowing medical marijuana to instituting nonpartisan elections in South Dakota have submitted petitions to put the plans before voters next year. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said in a statement Tuesday that it will likely take her office until Jan. 1 to review the proposals. The ballot questions include four initiated measures and four constitutional amendments that were submitted by the Monday deadline. Supporters had to provide at least 13,871 signatures for initiated measures and at least 27,741 for amendments. The office looks at signatures and petition completeness as part of its review before the measures appear on the ballot. Several other measures are already set to go before voters in 2016.

Full Article: SD activists submit 8 ballot measures to secretary of state.

South Dakota: Only 27 voters used state’s $668K program to help military members vote | Rapid City Journal

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering ending a voting system paid for with a $668,000 federal grant but which attracted only 27 voters. Krebs told legislators last week that the high cost might force her to shut off the electronic voting system for military personnel started by her predecessor, Jason Gant. But Gant said he is proud of the effort, even though only 27 military personnel used it to cast ballots in the 2014 election. Krebs said the system was developed using a $668,000 grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program. State records show Gant signed a contract on Aug. 23, 2013, to pay a software company to build the iOASIS program for military personnel. It was intended to be a much-faster and more attractive substitute for traditional absentee ballots.

South Dakota: Absentee ballot lawsuit could cost Minnehaha County taxpayers | KSFY

A group of Native Americans brought forth a lawsuit to make absentee voting more accessible for some in Jackson County. Minnehaha County, like many other counties across the state, pays into an insurance fund in case it gets sued and needs to pay up. Some say the Jackson County lawsuit could cost one of the fund’s largest contributors, which is Minnehaha County. Casting an absentee ballot in person on the Pine Ridge reservation requires voters to go the distance. Up to 30 miles for some. It’s why a group called Four Directions is suing Jackson County to open another voting center closer to home. Four Directions consultant Brett Healy said “it makes it equal for the citizens who live on the Pine Ridge indian reservation, who don’t have perhaps the same level of resources that many of us come to expect.”

Full Article: Absentee ballot lawsuit could cost Minnehaha County taxpayers.

South Dakota: Voting rights case enters costly phase | The Argus Leader

Depositions were under way last week in a voting rights case that could indirectly cost taxpayers in Sioux Falls and other South Dakota communities hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Jackson County was sued last year by four Native Americans after the county refused to establish an in-person absentee polling place in Wanblee. County officials last year argued they didn’t have the money to establish an absentee polling place in both Wanblee, which is 96 percent Indian, along with an existing polling place at the county seat in Kadoka, which is 95 percent white. But the money argument ceased to exist after the state agreed to make federal Help America Vote Act funds available for counties to establish satellite polling places for federal elections. The funds are available for counties with large impoverished populations that live farther away than other residents from county seats or other satellite polling places.

Full Article: Voting rights case enters costly phase.

South Dakota: Election reform measures headed to 2016 ballot | Argus Leader

South Dakota voters successfully referred two statewide laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year, meaning the laws will not go into effect until voters decide their fate in November 2016. The two laws would have become effective at midnight. One, Senate Bill 69, would have revamped a number of election-related matters and the other, Senate Bill 177, established a youth minimum wage that was one dollar less per hour than the minimum wage established by voters in the 2014 election. Corey Heidelberger, an Aberdeen-based political activist, sponsored both ballot drives. The state Democrats, which have found repeated success with statewide ballot measures, provided manpower to secure the 13,871 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Full Article: Youth minimum wage, election reform measures headed to 2016 ballot.

South Dakota: ACLU files federal suit challenging election law change | Associated Press

Two small political parties in South Dakota filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging part of a law that they say would make it harder to get their candidates on the ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state’s Libertarian and Constitution parties, among other individuals. South Dakota activists are also gathering signatures to refer the law to voters in the 2016 election for a possible repeal. The measure in question, part of a new bundle of election law changes passed during the 2015 legislative session, shifted the deadline back by about a month for new parties to turn in signatures allowing them to participate in a primary election.

Full Article: ACLU files federal suit challenging SD election law change.