SD Retirement System Elects Trustees by Mail and Online Voting

I have in my hands an official state ballot inviting me to vote for public officials by mail or online.

Yesterday the mailman brought me a letter from the South Dakota Retirement System. Our state pension system is holding an election for five seats on the Board of Trustees. SDRS asks me to send my paper ballot to Election Services Co.‘s P.O. Box in Ronkonkoma, New York, or vote online through ESC’s secure ballot website. Online voters access the system by logging in with their ZIP code and an “Election Validation Number” included in the letter from SDRS. “In efforts to reduce cost,” says SDRS, “we encourage online voting.” SDS provides no option for me to vote in person. SDRS must receive all votes by 5 p.m. Central on May 25.

The SDRS Board of Trustees is a public body, created by state law, just like county commissions, city councils, school boards, sanitary districts, and most of the other elected offices on which we vote. This public body, serving 84,000-some members, is able to conduct its elections entirely by mail and Internet, delivering ballots and login information to every eligible voter.

If the South Dakota Retirement System can offer voting by mail and online, why not create an online voting system to complement our current mail-in absentee voting system?

p.s.: Oregon, Washington, and Colorado conduct all elections by mail. California will go to all-mail voting in 2018.


5 Responses to SD Retirement System Elects Trustees by Mail and Online Voting

  1. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    I am not a fan of an online voting system. Your are just asking for elections to be hacked. Any voting system can potentially be compromised, but the paper ballot offers a form of recordation in a way that no electronic and or online system could ever offer. If it is not broken, why fix it?

  2. Nick nemec

    The SDRS voting system is not fool proof. My mother, who has dementia and is in an assisted living center, is a member of the system and get a monthly deposit in her account. Much of her mail comes to my address because that was easiest solution when she was going to the assisted living. She got this letter yesterday and I could easily log on and vote online for her. I won’t.

  3. Nick, good example. JKC, reasonable concerns. I can go either way. If mail/online voting offer sufficient security for SDRS trustees, why not use the same methods for other offices? If the mail/online voting are not sufficiently secure, then why are SDRS and the Legislature allowing this method of voting to take place? Why are the Republicans not howling about a potential for voter fraud that is much greater in the SDRS election than it is at our physical polls in November?

  4. Drey Samuelson

    Cory–good questions. Vote by mail has many advantages–it saves taxpayer dollars, gives voters time at home to research their votes, makes it much easier for disabled voters and single-parents to vote, substantially increases voter participation, eliminates voter suppression techniques on Election Day, and is very popular in the states that have it. It’s essentially the same system that we use when we vote by absentee ballot–what’s so terrible with that?

  5. Porter Lansing

    Great points, Mr. Samuelson. In CO election costs have dropped from $16 a vote to $9.65 with voter participation last election at 71.3%. All mail in ballots (we still have early voting and election day voting at the polls) was fought tooth and nail by Republicans, as was registering when getting a drivers license. It took a blue house and senate and governor concurrently to realize this cost saving measure. It’s almost as if Republicans don’t want to make it easier to vote, huh?