Senator Craig Tieszen (R-34/Rapid City) wants to make it harder for non-residents to vote in local elections. Senator Jeff Monroe (R-24/Pierre) wants to make it easier for folks who don’t live in town to vote in town elections.
State law gives municipalities control over zoning in areas within three miles of city limits. Around Fort Pierre, that extra-territorial zoning authority is apparently one mile (I’m still trying to find the statute that reduces Fort Pierre’s reach). Cities can thus make zoning decisions for people who cannot vote in those cities’ elections.
Local District 24 State Senator Jeff Monroe is bring forth a bill this year that would give those residents an opportunity to vote in city elections…
Some South Dakota cities have jurisdictions of up to three miles outside of city limits. Whatever the amount of miles, this bill would allow those residents to vote in city elections says Monroe [Kevin Larsen, “Bill Would Allow Those In The ‘One Mile Zone’ An Opportunity To Vote,” KCCR Radio, 2016.01.03].
Monroe’s proposal (not yet in the Legislative hopper, but let’s watch for it!) touches on an issue of representation that I’ve long wondered about. What qualifies a citizen to vote in a given jurisdiction’s election? What constitutes being, as Monroe says, “under the jurisdiction of the city council”? If a resident of the Missouri bluffs just outside of Fort Pierre qualifies to vote for Fort Pierre City Council by dint of being subject to Fort Pierre’s extra-territorial zoning authority, then what about a Pierre resident owns a business in Fort Pierre? What about the legislators who cross the river at 1 a.m. Central to buy drinks and pay Fort Pierre sales tax for another hour in the Mountain Time Zone?
And if Senator Monroe is willing to let non-residents vote in city council elections, will he logically conclude that he must also let non-residents run for city council?
Be careful, Senator Monroe—your proposal may not be as straightforward as you think.