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Feds Say HAVA Funds OK for Satellite Early-Voting Stations; Jackson County Refuses to Settle

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.


  1. Porter Lansing 2015-10-02 12:40

    It’s an easy analogy between South Dakota Republicans and the New England Patriots. The GOP may hold all the cards but what validity is there in winning when you cheat? Gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement? Really? That’s a worth-little, hollow pride.

  2. Porter Lansing 2015-10-02 12:44

    Elections with mail-in ballots are cheaper and have higher voter turnout. AND they’re a stick in the eye of voter disenfranchising TeaWingers.

  3. Paul Seamans 2015-10-02 13:18

    Has anyone heard from the Jackson County commissioners on why they are dragging their feet on this? My neighbors to the west in Jackson County are generally fairly reasonable people.

  4. jerry 2015-10-02 13:33

    As we have seen with the petitioners that are being paid for by out of state resources, why not have a voter drive not only in Jackson County, but in Oglala Lakota County and all counties that have Native voters that are mostly disenfranchised. What could be done is money that would come from the Democratic National offices could be directed to employ locals to get their fellow Natives signed up to vote. These paid workers would also be notaries. At election time, the paid employees could bring the ballots to the folks in these areas so they can cast their votes. It would be economic stimulus for the reservations by the hiring of locals and it would tell Jackson County to go have sex with itself.

  5. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 13:43

    What is it about Republican dead enders that they insist on continuing to fight lost battles long after they are lost? Jackley fought equal marriage rights for all citizens, at great cost to South Dakota taxpayers, until long after the writing was on the wall. Now the Jackson County Commission is doing the same.

  6. Jeff Barth 2015-10-02 14:12

    I heard that they’d would allow a satellite voting center in Native American areas if they could find someone there that they could trust… ..?!!!

  7. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 14:26

    Someone they could trust? Sounds like a bunch of racists.

  8. Porter Lansing 2015-10-02 14:28

    Hear, hear Mr. Nemec. Well said.

  9. jerry 2015-10-02 14:31

    Just remember Mr. Nemec, it is other people’s money they toss around. If it were there own, they would be conservatives like the rest of us are.

  10. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 14:40

    Yup Jerry. Because of the litigation risk pool for counties, a small county like Jackson can shift its costs to counties throughout the state. The citizens of Minnehaha County will end up paying more for the hardheadedness of Jackson County commissioners than than Jackson County citizens will.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2015-10-02 15:16

    Usually I call South Dakota the North Mississippi, today I’ll call them Northern Alabama.

    Alabama requires all voters to have a state issued ID, so what does the state do? Close all the driver’s license station with the highest black populatins.

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-10-02 16:45

    I’ve known a few Kadokans and they were pretty decent folks. It’s hard to imagine them being so mean-spirited and hatefully racist. Yet, such attributes are often kept hidden from “outsiders”, while being common place among the locals. Of course it could be that the folks I’m acquainted with abhor this racism too.

  13. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 20:14

    Or it could be that they are getting bad advice from Sara Frankenstein. She’s a Republican operative who has made a good living fighting Native American voting rights by giving bad advice to local officials across the country.

  14. leslie 2015-10-02 21:10

    dead enders-kadoka (my birthplace), chamberlaine school board, watertown homecoming halloween dresser-uppers, ect., custer city council, custer county commission, phil lampert, pennington county commission except for deb haddcock, SD State Historical Society, GFPs, SD Dept. Tourism, ect. and…jeb bush.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-03 10:49

    What Nick said. A typical county government would settle and save itself a bunch of bad press and grief. There seems to be a high likelihood that Frankenstein and the GOP are pushing them to stand their ground and keep spending money.

  16. Porter Lansing 2015-10-03 11:57

    @CAH … That’s the script lawyers operate under. (anecdote: I have a friend who just inherited a couple million when his 93 year old mother passed away. During the first meeting with the attorney handling her estate, attorney told my friend that it was his duty to advise that my friend should file a malpractice suit against his Mom’s Doctor. That would have earned the shylock about a quarter of my friends inheritance with about .0001% chance of winning) It’s an attorney’s prime directive to try to generate business.

  17. Paul Seamans 2015-10-03 12:09

    I would think that the Jackson County commissioners could deputize one of their own people and send them down to Wanblee to run a voting station. It surely can’t be any longer of a drive down to Wanblee for a county official than it is for Wanblee residents to drive to Kadoka in order to register and to vote. In addition, this wouldn’t let there be any question by county officials of voting irregularities on the Rez.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-04 08:34

    Good point, Paul. Jackson County could serve its constituents, strengthen election participation, better guarantee ballot integrity (if you want something done right, do it yourself, right?), and on top of everything else, save wear and tear on the roads with one official making a few trips to Wanblee instead of a bunch of people having to make the trip to Kadoka.

  19. leslie 2015-11-13 21:24

    …exactly what happened in Kentucky on Tuesday, where Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway was leading by a fair margin (about 3 to 5 points) in almost every pre-election poll in his race for Governor, but then ended up being announced as the loser to ‘Tea Party’ Republican candidate Matt Bevin by a landslide (almost 9 points) — according to the state’s 100% unverified computer tabulation systems.-???

    As detailed on today’s [THOM HARTMANN] program with…guest Karoli Kuns of Crooks And Liars, there are a number of reasons to question the reported results. Among them, as Kuns points out today at C&L, the Democrats running in the down ballot races — for Secretary of State, Attorney General (Conway’s current job) and even state Auditor — each reportedly received tens of thousands more votes than Conway did at the top of the ticket!

    – See more at:

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