Today’s constitutional challenge is to keep tax-dodging RV voters from skewing local and state elections without disenfranchising real residents of South Dakota. At peril of sounding like one of those Republicans who want to make it harder to vote, I offer this attempt to bring clarity to South Dakota’s definition of residency for voting purposes. As with all bills submitted to the South Dakota Legislature, language added to existing statute is underlined:
Dakota Free Press Bill #2: Clarifying Voting Residence
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to clarify and enforce voting residence requirements.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That § 12-1-4 be amended to read:
12-1-4. Criteria for determining voting residence. For the purposes of this title, the term, residence, means the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends to return. To satisfy this definition of residence, a person not currently on active military duty must maintain and list as his or her address on his or her voter registration application a physical address at which is located a physical domicile with sleeping accommodations. Undeveloped plots of land, post office boxes, mail-forwarding service addresses, campgrounds, commercial short-term lodging establishments, and other non-residential addresses do not satisfy the definition of residence for voting purposes. Valid physical residences for voting purposes include but are not limited to residential property, apartment buildings, mobile home parks, homeless shelters, assisted-living facilities, long-term care facilities, and residence halls at educational institutions.
A person who has left home and gone into another state or territory or county of this state for a temporary purpose only has not changed his or her residence.
A person is considered to have gained a residence in any county or municipality of this state in which the person actually lives, if the person has no present intention of leaving.
If a person moves to another state, or to any of the other territories, with the intention of making it his or her permanent home, the person thereby loses residence in this state.
Section 2. That Chapter 21-35 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
If the Secretary of State, county auditor, or other official in charge of voter registration and/or an election has reason to believe that one or more individuals have applied for or obtained voter registration by claiming voting residence at an address that does not satisfy the definition of voting residence given in § 12-1-4, that election official shall visit the given address to verify that a physical domicile with sleeping accommodations is located at that address. If the election official does not find at that address a physical domicile at which all individuals registered to vote at that address could practically sleep at the same time, the election official shall report that address to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State shall purge all individuals registered to vote at that address from the voter registration records.
Keep in mind, if the intent of the bill is to cut back on the ability of tax-dodging itinerants to sway local elections, we may solve that problem simply by passing the kind of state income tax that those RVers are RVing to avoid. That Dakota Free Press bill is coming up shortly!