Your tax dollars are hard at work defending Jackson County’s dogged desire to keep it hard for Indians to vote. Even though the West River county has Judge Karen Schreier and the federal Election Assistance Commission telling them they can use Help America Vote Act money to set up a satellite early voting station at Wanblee for its large Indian population far from the Kadoka courthouse, Jackson County continues to drag out a lawsuit filed by local Indian voters demanding such voting access.
Funny: Jackson County can’t bear to stick taxpayers with the cost of helping Indians vote, but they are happy to stick taxpayers with the lawyer bill for defending their racism:
Bret Healy, a spokesman for the Indian voting rights group Four Directions, was one of those deposed last week in Kadoka. He said there were five lawyers involved on both sides and a court reporter.
“Every week that goes by that they keep fighting is another week they have to pay both sides,” he said.
Jackson County, however, is not footing the bill. The county is a member of the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance, an insurance pool of more than 400 government entities in South Dakota. Those governments use taxpayer dollars to buy insurance through the alliance. Sioux Falls, the pool’s largest member, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
…Settling, Healy said, is in the best interest of the governments that are members of the alliance. A worst-case scenario would see Jackson County losing and then appealing to the Eight Circuit Court. Under that scenario, he added, the only benefiting entity would be Gunderson Palmer Nelson & Ashmore, the Rapid City law firm representing Jackson County.
“It’s a million-and-a-half dollars coming out of South Dakota taxpayers just so Gunderson Palmer can continue to bill the insurance pool,” Healy said [link added; Jonathan Ellis, “Voting Rights Case Enters Costly Phase,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.08.15].
Four Directions has estimated that three satellite early voting centers set up under a reasonable compromise would cost $20,000.* A million and a half dollars would fund an early voting station in Wanblee and two more around the reservation for 75 election cycles, through 2190.
*Correction 2015.08.17 21:57 CDT: I reviewed my December 2013 post and found that Healy cited $20K as the cost of establishing three satellite early voting stations, not just one. I have revised the text to reflect that lower per-station cost.