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.
In May, Jackson County lost a bid to dismiss the lawsuit. In refusing to dismiss the case, federal District Court Judge Karen Schreier wrote an order stating that the issue involves the federal Voting Rights Act and its protections for certain groups.
“The ability to vote absentee in-person must be viewed in conjunction with practical realities – such as poverty and lack of transportation – that exist on the Pine Ridge Reservation and must be compared to the opportunity to vote available to other Jackson County white citizens,” Schreier wrote.
Full Article: Voting rights case enters costly phase.