A couple of years ago, South Dakota’s worst Secretary of State ever, Jason Gant, resorted to the devious trick of appealing to the understaffed Election Advisory Commission to get advice on whether South Dakota could use Help America Vote Act money to support satellite early-voting stations in American Indian communities. His intent was to delay action that would help more Indians vote.
In case anyone was wondering, the EAC has responded. On July 28, the EAC issued an advisory opinion saying, simply, yes, “establishing in-person absentee voting locations” “is an appropriate improvement to the administration of Federal elections. The cost is allowable, allocable and reasonable.”
Even with this EAC ruling affirming what the state said was o.k. under its modified 2014 HAVA plan, Jackson County is still fighting satellite early-voting stations for its Indian residents. Back in May, plaintiffs in Poor Bear et al. v. Jackson County offered to settle. At their June 8 meeting, after consulting with their well-paid lawyer Sara Frankenstein, the Jackson County Commission rejected that offer. Of course, when Jackson County can spread the cost of their well-paid lawyer out onto taxpayers statewide, why would their well-paid legal team advise anything else other than keeping the litigation going for as long as possible?
According to Judge Karen Schreier’s scheduling order of June 3, the case will be in discovery until December 11; motions and supporting briefs are due January 22, 2016, with answering materials and reply briefs stretching things out another five weeks past that.
The EAC advisory should make clear that Jackson County can avail itself of exactly the money the plaintiffs are telling them they can use for satellite early-voting stations, but stubborn Jackson County may keep funneling tax dollars to its lawyers right up until those stations are needed for the 2016 election.