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DFP Bill #2: Clarifying Voting Residence in South Dakota

Dakota Free Press
Legislative Proposals

Today’s constitutional challenge is to keep tax-dodging RV voters from skewing local and state elections without disenfranchising real residents of South Dakota. At peril of sounding like one of those Republicans who want to make it harder to vote, I offer this attempt to bring clarity to South Dakota’s definition of residency for voting purposes. As with all bills submitted to the South Dakota Legislature, language added to existing statute is underlined:

Dakota Free Press Bill #2: Clarifying Voting Residence 

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to clarify and enforce voting residence requirements.


Section 1. That § 12-1-4 be amended to read:

12-1-4. Criteria for determining voting residence. For the purposes of this title, the term, residence, means the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends to return. To satisfy this definition of residence, a person not currently on active military duty must maintain and list as his or her address on his or her voter registration application a physical address at which is located a physical domicile with sleeping accommodations. Undeveloped plots of land, post office boxes, mail-forwarding service addresses, campgrounds, commercial short-term lodging establishments, and other non-residential addresses do not satisfy the definition of residence for voting purposes. Valid physical residences for voting purposes include but are not limited to residential property, apartment buildings, mobile home parks, homeless shelters, assisted-living facilities, long-term care facilities, and residence halls at educational institutions.

A person who has left home and gone into another state or territory or county of this state for a temporary purpose only has not changed his or her residence.

A person is considered to have gained a residence in any county or municipality of this state in which the person actually lives, if the person has no present intention of leaving.

If a person moves to another state, or to any of the other territories, with the intention of making it his or her permanent home, the person thereby loses residence in this state.

Section 2. That Chapter 21-35 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

If the Secretary of State, county auditor, or other official in charge of voter registration and/or an election has reason to believe that one or more individuals have applied for or obtained voter registration by claiming voting residence at an address that does not satisfy the definition of voting residence given in § 12-1-4, that election official shall visit the given address to verify that a physical domicile with sleeping accommodations is located at that address. If the election official does not find at that address a physical domicile at which all individuals registered to vote at that address could practically sleep at the same time, the election official shall report that address to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State shall purge all individuals registered to vote at that address from the voter registration records.

Keep in mind, if the intent of the bill is to cut back on the ability of tax-dodging itinerants to sway local elections, we may solve that problem simply by passing the kind of state income tax that those RVers are RVing to avoid. That Dakota Free Press bill is coming up shortly!


  1. bearcreekbat 2016-01-10

    My cousin and his spouse are life long residents of South Dakota. They were born here, worked here, raised a family, have parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends and other relatives who live here. After a lifetime of hard work in the mine and other SD businesses, they were able to retire. To fulfill their life long dream, they sold their home, bought an RV and they travel around the country visiting other friends and relatives and seeing sights they have heard about in other states. They return to SD regularly and still consider them selves South Dakotans. Their RV is registered here.

    It looks like your proposed bill would disenfranchise them in South Dakota. If other states adopted similar laws there would be no where in the country that they could vote. Is that the intent of this proposed legislation?

  2. bearcreekbat 2016-01-10

    And what about the homeless folks who are not fortunate enough to have a rescue mission in their area, or who have been kicked out of the only local homeless shelter. Wouldn’t they also be disenfranchised?

  3. Robin Page 2016-01-10

    Having given this issue some serious thought over the last few years, I believe that the only way to overcome this problem is for the state to require that residency is given only to those who physically live in the state for a fixed period of 6 months or longer. Of course this does not apply to those who are in the military. This 6 month time period is used in many states. Currently South Dakota law only requires a person to spend one night in a lodging in South Dakota to become a state resident. This is the problem. As South Dakota sees more and more seniors moving to the state, we must be careful that we do not take away their residency just because they want to travel in their retirement years. Also, It may be possible for the state to put stricter requirements for voting in state and local elections and issues. Again, strengthening the requirement for the voter to physically live in the state for a certain time period. However, absentee voting for all residents must be allowed for national elections. The outcome then could be that the “mail box” voters can vote absentee in national elections, but not state and local elections.

  4. grudznick 2016-01-10

    This law bill also indicates that for some people, perhaps truthfully, homelessness is a permanent condition. Regardless, all people should get to vote somewhere. But add into the bill the following and I can support it: “Hereby abolished is the town of Buffalo Chip.”

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-10

    Bear, I am concerned about the disenfranchisement you speak of. Moving here to dodge taxes feels wrong, but maybe that’s a wrong we’ll have to accept to protect folks like your cousin and really hard-luck homeless.

    Curious: where do the homeless currently register to vote? What address do they put down? Can a homeless person even qualify to vote under the current of residence, having fixed habitation and intending to return whenever absent?

    Your cousin and spouse: is there any other situation in which they have to claim some fixed residence, say, for insurance or tax purposes? Do they use a rented mailbox? For voting purposes under this bill, could they simply register under the address of a relative they visit when in the state?

  6. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Professional campground hosts, I job I once held, would be disenfranchised under this law.

  7. Lynn 2016-01-10

    I planned on doing the traveling full-time with an RV myself, maybe do a little work camping on the side and use SD as my home residence. I agree with the commentors up above that too many would be disenfranchised under this law.

    Throw this proposal in the trash can.

  8. grudznick 2016-01-10

    We should wait and see what a professional like Mr. Tieszen comes up with for he has written many a bill. Despite the RV voters not coming out in droves on the wheel tax and having no effect, Mr. Tieszen may still want to repeal the Buffalo Chip voting of 18 people none of whom live there but live elsewhere or on the road.

  9. SuperSweet 2016-01-10

    When I travel and stay in out of state RV parks I visit with a lot of people with SD license plates. They don’t give a hoot about local and state elections but want to vote for the POTUS. I don’t think the bill will affect much in local elections.

  10. grudznick 2016-01-10

    It will prevent your RV friends from voting for their choice for a President.
    That’s bad. That’s real bad.

  11. grudznick 2016-01-10

    I note, however, that Ms. Krebs would get to come and look at my sleeping quarters to determine if I can sleep there. At the same time.

  12. mike from iowa 2016-01-10

    Get rid of the RV voting non-sense then Dakota would actually have to do serious work on attracting people to come and live there for real. Your lawmakers are already doing nothing.Don’t encourage them to do less.

    This ain’t Mars
    You can live in your cars
    You can smoke in the bars
    What you can’t do is earn a decent living.

  13. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Nice blogging post, Mike. You make it obvious with those words that you are from Iowa and can’t vote, live, smoke or earn here. And we like it that way just fine, here in “Dakota.”

  14. mike from iowa 2016-01-10

    Dung beetles live,work,shop,play and breed in dung heaps. They like it that way. I can’t vote there,either,but maybe you would feel right at home with them,grudz.

    In iowa,we are much more of an advanced civilization. We don’t fear our shadows or freak out when there is an eclipse. Every so often we change the handles on gubmint so one party doesn’t stink up the place like your place ,buddy. :) At some point change was good for your didies. Why not your gubmint?

  15. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Your opinion is like many out of staters who admire our way and quality of life, Mr. Mike. I believe that is why so many frequent Mr. H’s blog about the Great State of South Dakota, either to drool with envy or like you to try and run us down.

  16. mike from iowa 2016-01-10

    I’d like to shame you freaking nutjobs into changing for the better,but it is a scientifically and medically proven fact you can’t shame wingnuts. They have no souls to shame. No conscience and zero apathy for anyone except the koch bros. You can keep your dung heap,grudz. Hogs smell bad enough over this way.

  17. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Gaia bless Mr. Koch.

  18. Tasiyagnunpa 2016-01-10

    Then many of my fellow Nomads, the homeless and MANY MANY tribal people whose only recourse in a housing shortage is to bounce between friend’s and family, will be disenfranchised.

    Not on this Nomad’s life!!

  19. Tasiyagnunpa 2016-01-10

    Oh, and btw, passing nonpartisan elections would also help with the issue of Republican RVers voting R in elections for localities they know little about, rarely live in and skew the returns of.

  20. Miller 2016-01-10

    This definition would exclude an, unfortunately quite large, number of homeless people. Many people live in motels or homeless shelters, some homeless shelters offer a mail box for people that can move from motel, to couch, to shelter, to street several times per year. I’ve registered dozens of people from such addresses, the voter file must show thousands.

  21. jerry 2016-01-10

    How does anyone know if these retired folks vote in other elections in their states of former residence?

  22. bearcreekbat 2016-01-10

    Cory, I am not sure about what arrangements my cousin has made for mail, etc. They owned a house for about 30 years, but I don’t think they own any real estate any more.

    As for the homeless, your questions are worth exploring. People released from prison who have to register as sex offenders have an especially difficult situation when homeless. First, state law limits where they can live, such as prohibiting them from living near schools. They generally are required to notify authorities within 3 days of changing their residence, which is difficult with no fixed residence.

    “Even though they don’t have a permanent address, homeless sex offenders will still have to register where they sleep, whether it’s on a picnic table, bench, or under a tree.”

    According to the ACLU homeless folks in SD also need to identify some sort of residence and mailing address to vote:

    “You don’t need a home to register, but you do have to identify a place of residence (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other place where you usually stay). You must also provide a mailing address, such as a shelter or advocacy organization, at which you can receive mail.”

  23. jerry 2016-01-10

    Tasiyagnunpa brings up something that I did not know, what about registering the homeless to vote? Would they use the shelter for their addresses? How could that work? They would have a more vested interest in seeing changes made than many others, they should have a voice.

  24. mike from iowa 2016-01-10

    But gawd fearing wingnut’s heads would explode if they were allowed to exercise their constitutional rights to vote because you know they would vote in their own best interests-not for the koch bros agenda.

  25. grudznick 2016-01-10

    It’s bad, Ms. Tasiyagnunpa. It’s real, real bad.

  26. grudznick 2016-01-10

    I wonder how Ms. Krebs will wander about verifying that all the homeless people registered at Wilson Park can all actually and practically sleep there at the same time.

  27. jake 2016-01-10

    Interesting conversations; let’s hope the leg devotes good time to it!!!

  28. Miller 2016-01-10

    Mike from Iowa:
    There is not, in the United States Constitution, a specific right to vote. One of several things we need to fix.

  29. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Every minute they spend in the legislatures talking about disenfranchising homeless people and Republican RVers and Nomads away from being able to vote is a minute they don’t have to figure out how to pay good teachers more money.

  30. jerry 2016-01-10

    Mr. Grudznick, the way to pay teachers more money is to solve the problem of disenfranchised voters for one. When voters participate, stuff gets done, but you already know this.

  31. grudznick 2016-01-10

    No, Mr. jerry, I think the way to pay good teachers more money is to first figure out where the money will come from, then how to get it to the good teachers and not to the fatcat administrators. That is where all the talking will be.

  32. mike from iowa 2016-01-10

    Miller-doesn’t the 19th amendment extend the right of suffrage to women?

  33. grudznick 2016-01-10

    This law Mr. H is proposing would only disenfranchise voters more, Mr. Jerry, which is the opposite in your opinion of paying good teachers more. Why would Mr. H put a bill into the legislatures that hurts chances of paying good teachers more?

  34. 96Tears 2016-01-10

    The bill should avoid disenfranchising legit South Dakotans,including examples set forth by bearcreekbat and Tasiyagnunpa. Yet I strongly support getting these tax deadbeats off of our state’s voter rolls. It’s insulting to all of us. They become the margin of victory for politicians without bearing any responsibility of paying state and local taxes that support our schools, towns, counties and state. They become part of how elections get rigged in South Dakota, and that injures the election process for all of us. We are all cheated election after election.

    How about changing the state’s minimum requirement for achieving residence from one day in a domicile to 60 consecutive days? In order to achieve state residency to qualify for voting, the voter must sign an oath that they have been a resident meeting that minimum period of residency. If they are found to have been lying, impose the kind of penalties that candidates and notaries incur for making false statements on nominating petitions. I think this would also allow college students moving to South Dakota to register as a voter, another important group who should not be disenfranchised.

    If a person is in the state for 60 consecutive days, they are more than typical deadbeat RVers who pollute our election process and pay nothing to financially support the governments their votes influence. If that’s too long a period, why are we giving them the right to influence who runs OUR government?

  35. grudznick 2016-01-10

    It seems clear to me that we all agree Mr. H’s law bill will disenfranchise a whole host of voters. That’s bad, that’s real bad. But it also seems clear to me this is about libbie rage against well-to-do people who buy fancy motor homes and enjoy life. Like Mr. tears says, “why are WE giving THEM the right to influence who runs OUR government?”

    Hmmm. This whole bill throws the yellow hanky on any complaints libbies have about gerrymandering or majority rule. Because the majority rules. So sayeth grudznick.

  36. bearcreekbat 2016-01-10

    grudz, do you consider Republican Senate leader Craig Tieszen to be a “libbie” (whatever you mean by this when you use the term to try to insult or demean others)? As Cory pointed out in an earlier thread, Tieszen seems to be the leader in expressing angst about RV voters.

  37. grudznick 2016-01-10

    He’s a little bit liberal, Mr. bat. Ask anybody. I don’t know that he’s all the way over to that yellowish area where the needle hits Libbie.

    He’s full of angst, that Mr. Tieszen, full of angst indeed.

  38. Rorschach 2016-01-10

    A flawed solution in search of a problem. Like anybody else, these people can only legally vote in one state. They have chosen SD as that state. Used to be that in the US we found reasons to take away people’s right to vote: non-landowners, women, African Americans, illiterate, poor, etc. Let’s quit doing that.

    Cory, you don’t like these people because there are more Republican RVers than Democrats. If it were the other way around you wouldn’t be beating this drum. You are as bad as the Republicans trying to disenfranchise minorities who might vote Democrat.

  39. grudznick 2016-01-10

    At one point, you know we almost considered inviting Mr. Tieszen to speak at the Conservatives with Common Sense monthly breakfast? I think he would have been entertaining.

  40. bearcreekbat 2016-01-10

    Rohr, I agree with you that it is a bad idea to disenfranchise RV-ers. But I disagree that Cory’s motive is based on how he thinks these RV-ers will vote. He has disavowed any such motive in an earlier thread and I have no basis to disagree, especially since none of us have any idea how RV-er’s might vote (except for my cousin who seems to be pretty conservative).

  41. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Indeed, Mr. Rorschach, the people who all voted to have Mr. H put this into the legislatures have become exactly what they perceive they rail against. They have become disenfranchising gerrymanderers.

  42. larry kurtz 2016-01-10

    Cory is truly the Donald Trump of South Dakota politics. Let’s boycott DFP.

  43. owen reitzel 2016-01-10

    My county has a RV PO Box business. A few years ago we tried to pass a wheel tax to help pay for fixing roads and bridges. Thanks to the RVer’s the wheel tax was defeated.
    Now here is a group of people that won’t drive on our poor roads or cross our deteriorating bridges. Their only concern is there pocketbooks.
    I’d be for this bill and I’d hope that there would be a way to let RVer’s that are former South Dakotan’s vote.

  44. larry kurtz 2016-01-10

    Build a wall and make Nebraska pay for it.

  45. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Lar, it would be unhealthy for you to get your South Dakota Peeping Tom fix from Mr. PP’s blog alone. Don’t do it, we all want you here. The SDDP NEEDS you here.

  46. grudznick 2016-01-10

    Mark down Mr. reitzel as wanting to disenfranchise the homeless and old people who like to camp.

  47. larry kurtz 2016-01-10

    PP is the chigger of the world.

  48. owen reitzel 2016-01-10

    never said that Grud. SMH

  49. Rorschach 2016-01-10

    How do you know how the RVers voted, Owen? Did you look at their ballots? If you looked at ballots, how did the farmers vote? How did the Democrats vote?

  50. grudznick 2016-01-10

    owen reitzel 2016-01-10 at 18:11
    …I’d be for this bill and I’d hope that there would be a way to let RVer’s that are former South Dakotan’s vote.

    Forget about RVer’s, Mr. reitzel. Mr. H’s bill disenfranchieses some RVer’s and all homeless people who live in parks and all Nomads. You are for it. You said so, sir. Shame. Shame.

  51. leslie 2016-01-10

    At 12:03 on the ED thread i said residence too is a sticky wicket in the courts making this legislative effort very difficult for our largely corrupt GOP legislators. Grudz’ distractions thru out the blog effectively summarize their thinking.

  52. owen reitzel 2016-01-10

    Most of the people I talked to were for the wheel tax Rorschach. It would make sense. The RVer’s have no sense of community. They came to South Dakota to avoid paying taxes.

    Grud right in my statement I posted I said I’d hope there was a way to let these people vote and I also meant the homeless. I guess I was wrong. I thought you’d figure it out. Yup shame on me. I should be clearer for you.

  53. grudznick 2016-01-10

    You should be more clear, or perhaps more careful, Mr. reitzel. You said nothing about the homeless, you said you are for Mr. H’s law bill which would make it so homeless, and many of our Indian citizens who move around could not vote.

  54. Lynn 2016-01-10


    Is that mailbox service out of Emery?

  55. owen reitzel 2016-01-10

    yes Lynn

  56. grudznick 2016-01-10

    I suppose it is understandable if Mr. reitzel is more angry about mailbox service voters if they are a bigger part of his county than in Pennington where their vote “fizzled.” I am sorry, Owen, I too think people who vote against needed road maintenance are selfish or ignorant of the facts.

    But Mr. H’s bill still disenfranchises lots of old people who like to camp, some of them registered Democrats, many of them homeless, and still some others Indians and old people.

  57. Lynn 2016-01-10

    Based of a few RV forums a number of people choose the one in Emery partly because it is one of the least expensive figuring all the expenses. Some full-time RVers are on fixed income trying to keep their expenses down and others, work camp, or make their incomes online.

    How many employees are at this business, What type of business does it bring to Emery and the county? Tax revenue?

  58. SuperSweet 2016-01-10

    This bill is a job killer. It would close businesses and put people out of work at America’s Mailbox, therefore it is DOA.

  59. grudznick 2016-01-10

    We can live with killing jobs, we can’t live with disenfranchising voters. Unless they are rich.

  60. Lynn 2016-01-10

    [CAH: Lynn is back to being randomly spiteful. Permit me to fill in the context for her vague comment here]

    Then again since this proposal make no sense to others here and myself perhaps as Cory states

    ” Lynn, the consequences that could accrue from your fall from enlightenment and optimism are obvious” [CAH: the comment Lynn tucks in her notebook to cite as justification for her endless grievance continues with my assessment of the social impacts of her irrational betrayal of the Democratic Party over her incorrect perception that the SDDP is the party of pot and that any loosening of legal restrictions on marijuana is worse than all the other bad policies that the party of Daugaard, Haggar, Rounds, Thune, Cruz, and Trump will bring us: “If your goals are realized, South Dakota will sink further into low-wage jobs, teacher shortage, depletion of talent, disrespect for diversity, lack of vision and statesmanship in the Legislature, corruption, and disregard for democracy. You and I and every other South Dakotan will suffer those consequences.”]

    I suppose it depends on perspectives and what the consequences are and what is realistic. [CAH: Lynn could have continued the quote to cite exactly what I said the consequences of her political actions would be. But she’s more interested in provoking further distraction so she can persuade herself she’s doing the right thing helping the Republicans and that all Democrats are mean and nasty. ]

  61. grudznick 2016-01-10

    When Mr. H is in the legislatures and writes policy bills like this it will be great entertainment. I, for one, will have signs put up for him and be a helper.

    Keep in mind young people, I qualify to be able to vote under this law bill but I want to help other people who would be disenfranchised for it. I am a giver and empathetic as all hell.

  62. Porter Lansing 2016-01-10

    Just for reference. In CO you must have lived here for 22 days and have a current CO driver’s license or state ID, can’t be in jail or a felon. You must provide a legal residence or “home base” to register to vote. A residence is a permanent building or part of a building and may include a house, apartment, condominium, room in a house, mobile home, or building. But, we have a state income tax (4.6% which is deductible from your Federal income tax) so RVer’s don’t register here. Th

  63. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-10

    As SuperSweet notes, our concern about RV voters unfairly skewing local elections may be moot. But Bear, I think I can still justify the problem in something other than partisan terms: thousands of voters who aren’t really part of the community are registering to vote in the community. Arguing a hypothetical proves little, but I can conceive of a scenario in which a bunch of hippies might all rent mailboxes in Rapid City so they could vote to legalize drugs or defund the police department so that whenever they swing through on I-90 or stop in the Hills for vacation, they can sell, buy, and use drugs at will, without punishment. I would take offense at any such group that used its clout to establish an enclave of lawless, irresponsible behavior against the will of the actual residents who must live with the consequences of those decisions throughout the year.

    96, does a 60-consecutive-day rule apply in the other direction: i.e., would previously registered South Dakota voters lose their registration if they do not stay in state for 60 straight days? Would college students who go out of state in the fall and spring, then spend a good portion of the summer studying abroad or on internship lose their voting registration?

  64. Lynn 2016-01-10

    Regardless this will be DOA.

  65. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-10

    I do not like the impacts on Indian voters. People should not lose the right to vote do to poverty or bad luck with housing circumstances.

    I do like Tasi’s connection of the non-partisan primary amendment (Amendment V!) to this issue. Stop labeling candidates R & D, and any partisan proclivities those RVers may have may be diluted on the ballot. Interesting how so many other practical reforms may obviate our concerns about outsiders co-opting the local vote.

    If we were putting this bill together the way the Legislature put the highway bill together last year, could I offer a palliative amendment? What if we add to the bill a provision allowing same-day registration? Instead of cutting off registration two weeks before the election, we let people walk in to the polls on Election Day, register, and vote on the spot. Tasi, how many more of your Indian neighbors would that enfranchise than might be disenfranchised by this bill? (And remember, those itinerant folks are disenfranchised only if they can’t put a cousin or grandparent or friend’s home address on their registration card. DFP Bill #2 doesn’t require that the voter be living permanently at the address listed or be sleeping there the day that the auditor comes checking. DFP Bill #2 just says the voter has to write down a real residential address and that there has to be a place that person could sleep at that address.)

  66. John 2016-01-10

    Prepare the stakes and kindling! Sharpen the gullotines! Heat the tar! Collect the feathers! The RVers are the next voter scapegoat. What about those serving in the Peace Corps ‘voting in our local elections’; or congressional staffers, who unlike their well-healed congress-critters cannot afford multiple residences or to ‘fly home’ every weekend’; and what abou the missionairies temporarily serving overseas often for years at a posting; how about those selfless civil servants in the Foreign Service, the CIA, the NSA, DODDS teachers (they are not in the ‘military’), and thousands of others in alphabet agencies, non-profits, and non-governmental agencies; etc., etc., et al. Spend a few intelligent minutes and one conjures up hundreds to thousands of other exceptions to the local-yokel voting discrimination nationalistically wrapping in such a discriminatory voting proposal.

    Check the recent RVer participation in the Pennington County wheel tax defeat. That stupid tax proposal lost by a clear 60% — RVers factored into a mere 3% of the vote. That’s within a margin of error.

    Rather than transgress on constiutional rights to vote, freedom of association, freedom of travel – please sharpen your pitch forks on real controversies, one on ones where one has a constitutional fighting chance to prevail.

  67. Donald Pay 2016-01-10

    I don’t think my daughter could vote in SD with this bill. She’s been overseas for years, but claims SD as her voting residency.

  68. Barbara 2016-01-10

    Late to the party, and feel like maybe you didn’t want a voter like me to come Cory! I’ll add another group of apparently disenfranchised voters in this bill: civilian Americans who live outside the US. As you know, possibly better than me, citizens who live abroad are allowed to vote in federal elections, even if they have never lived in the US. We’re required to file US tax returns every year. The US is the only country with this requirement. Since there is no taxation without representation, we’re allowed to vote from the state of our last residence for President, US Senate and Congress. Some states allow participation in local elections; some states do so with the determination that if one is a voting resident of the state, one is also subject to the state income tax – a revenue source SD can’t tap for us or the RV voters. Democrats actually have a Democrats Abroad primary election that we can vote in instead of our state primary, but in the general election we need to vote from somewhere. (For what it’s worth, perhaps the largest group of South Dakotans living abroad are Hutterites.)

  69. 96Tears 2016-01-10

    Cory, the 60-day concept is an attempt of wanting stop the rigging of elections with the use of people who really don’t reside in the state. It would require a residence is maintained for 60 days, which means the person would maintain their primary residence instate for that minimum amount of time. Does it mean they can’t travel over the state line in that period? No. It doesn’t mean I forsake my South Dakota residence because I’ve got a construction job in Wyoming while maintaining a home in Custer. It’s just that simple.

    My guess is these RVers would not change their lifestyle to have to maintain a residence for two consecutive months just because they want to help the Black Hills Region Republican Party control precincts. My point is to remove the incentive to continue this hoax of a false voting residency. And if bearcreekbat’s cousins don’t want to stick around for two months in an entire year, I can’t sympathize with them. They’ve obviously made other plans than being a real South Dakota voter.

    But if 60 days is too much, what about a 45- or 30-day requirement?

    If there is a better idea that stops this voter residency hoax and is sensitive to the needs of people in transition due to life circumstances beyond their control, I’d like to see it.

  70. leslie 2016-01-10

    RVers spend one night in rcsd, sign w/america’s mailbox run by chicago ex-cop, dist 33 gets 3000 extra repub votes, north rapid, heavily minority-populated, loses a a Dem Rep. This was no january special election. What’s not to loveaboutgerrymandering Lynn, les, grudz, Rohr?

  71. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    John, 3% in that wheel tax vote? Is that based on absentee ballot stats? I was hoping someone would bring us numbers on that election.

  72. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    Donald, technically, does your daughter satisfy the current definition of residence for voting? Does she maintain a fixed habitation in South Dakota with an intent to return here? (I’m not trying to get her kicked off the rolls; I’m just testing whether DFP Bill #2 uniquely harms her right to vote.)

  73. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    Barbara, very interesting. Do you claim a local residence and vote in municipal and county elections as well? There’s the tricky thing: every citizen deserves to vote, and every citizen has to vote somewhere. States are in charge of elections, so there’s no way to vote through some federal agency as a stateless individual.

  74. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    “hoax of false voting residency”—when 96 uses words like that, it makes me wonder how Republicans who usually toot the alarm of voter fraud could say no to a proposal like this.

  75. 96Tears 2016-01-11

    Geez John, witch hunt? Uffdah, baby! I’m not joining you in weeping for nonresident tax evaders who also want to control our elections. What kind of stupid says that’s okay?

  76. bearcreekbat 2016-01-11

    If this is really a problem, the solution is that SD should adopt a progressive state income tax, similar to what Porter described in Colorado. Then the out of state RV-ers that Tieszen and others fear might take over control of state and local elections would not have an incentive to register here.

    On the other hand, I have noticed that neither Cory, Tieszen, nor anyone else, has cited any significant evidence that tax-avoiding RV-ers have had any meaningful impact on a single SD election. And as John pointed out, the RC Journal reports a meaningless minuscule number of RV-ers who even cared enough to vote on the wheel tax issue (and we really have no way of knowing whether they supported or opposed the wheel tax).

  77. larry kurtz 2016-01-11

    bat, i pointed that out long before anyone else in this thread did.

  78. bearcreekbat 2016-01-11

    larry, I agree – you deserve full credit for the idea! That is why I enjoy many of your ideas and comments.

  79. mike from iowa 2016-01-11

    States used to throw transients and vagrants in jail overnight. Now they welcome them with open arms and tax breaks. How times have changed.

  80. Barbara 2016-01-11

    People like myself and Donald Pay’s daughter, who vote from abroad do not need to have a residence in SD to vote from SD and do not need to have an intent to return. As persons who incur liability for US taxes as long as we retain US citizenship, we are allowed to vote in at least federal elections and by law we vote from the state of our last US residence, using our last address in that state before moving temporarily or permanently to another country for the myriad of reasons others have listed above. We do not claim that we still live there. We claim that we lived there the last time we were resident in the state.

    The advantage is that, having lived in a state, we have a connection there and I know from working in voter registration drives in Canada that many of us are informed and passionate voters. Others are not. Since we are not allowed to “move” to a new voting state that might suit our political persuasions or better address the issues faced by expatriates, having our voting bloc spread across the country is a potential disadvantage. I don’t vote in municipal and other local elections, but if a state can attempt to disenfranchise voters like me, it makes a good argument for voting in state races.

    As I alluded to above, tying local voting rights to local tax assessments is one way several states address expatriate absentee “control” of local issues. As Porter and Cory point out, the lack of a state income tax in SD is also the main reason RVers choose places like Hanson County for their “home”. It seems like it would be better for everyone to reconsider this issue than to try to negotiate the many problems already identified with a potential bill like this to achieve the same result.

  81. mike from iowa 2016-01-11

    Geez Louise people-Master Cory does not write THE laws for the state of South Mississippi and his version of laws have no actual effect on you or anyone. Let us not lose sight of this.

    What could be worse is now Texas allows open carry in at least one mental facility. If you can’t get nuts to the guns-bring the guns to the nuts.

  82. Madman 2016-01-11

    Is there any real statistics here that backs up this RV conspiracy theory of them swaying voter elections. How many people are absentee voting from RV’s?

    In this process things should be made easier to register to vote. In Minnesota you can register to vote at the polling place, you can even just have a neighbor vouch for you that you live there and allowed to vote.

    This is where South Dakota should move to by allowing more people to vote, not limiting the voting because someone feels that there is (numbers anyway) a mysterious number of RV people traveling who swoop in to vote.

    This is a ridiculous article and as a democrat in the state, I’m embarrassed it was even suggested.

    You want to change the results of local elections, get out and stump for candidates. Educate the voters about the candidates and not to vote based on the D, R, I or L you see next to their name.

  83. Donald Pay 2016-01-11

    Maybe I’m not understanding the problem this bill is meant to address. I would think progressives would be in favor of expanding the franchise, rather than trying to do the flip side of all the “shrink the franchise” nonsense (voter ID, etc.) that Republicans pull all the time. Get rid of this bill and voter ID requirements.

  84. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    I beg to differ, Madman. Far from ridiculous, this conversation isn’t about a conspiracy theory; it is about really trying to get a handle on what qualifies one to vote in a community’s elections. To try to tamp down the sense of ridiculousness, consider: do we let anyone walk in and vote in a city election? Would we let a tourist do so, just because that tourist spent the night before the election at the local Super 8?

  85. Robin Page 2016-01-11

    Thank you Leslie for bringing reality to the discussion. The Republican vote from the RVers using Americas Mailbox as their residency address, do have an impact on the state elections of Legislators. Americas Mailbox currently has some 8,000 mailbox users. Several thousand of them voted in the 2014 elections. So now, here is something to think about. I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah. We moved here to get medical care for one of my children. I have been asked to consider running for the State Legislature in 2016. So, how would I do that? I can go online and set up an account with Americas Mailbox so that I have a current address in South Dakota. I already have a SD drivers license. I am already registered to vote and can easily change my address. As a legal resident of South Dakota, registered to vote, I can then circulate a nominating petition and file with the Secretary of State as a candidate. Comments?

  86. Madman 2016-01-11


    This is unfortunately one of those things that inhibit voters rather then encouraging them to go out. To enforce this kind of vote would require a physical visit to the residence….no we need a Minnesota style voter registration that encourages people to vote, not to have the county auditor out there making the call on whether or not that mobile home is really a physical residence or should be condemned. Also to enforce this is my vote now going to be held in limbo until the auditor or official in charge of this goes to my house….

    I usually agree with you, but on this one we are far apart as we want to encourage people to vote.


  87. Bill Fleming 2016-01-11

    I think Robin Page’s question is a good one.

  88. jake 2016-01-11

    The way Buffalo Chip was enabled to become an official town with taxing/zoning powers (annexing adjoining property next) by RV voters, I assume, is maddening.

  89. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    Robin, your residency would make an interesting test case. Article 3, Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution specifies these qualifications for legislators:

    No person is eligible for the office of senator who is not a qualified elector in the district from which such person is chosen, a citizen of the United States, and who has not attained the age of twenty-one years, and who has not been a resident of the state for two years next preceding election.

    No person is eligible for the office of representative who is not a qualified elector in the district from which such person is chosen, and a citizen of the United States, and who has not been a resident of the state for two years next preceding election, and who has not attained the age of twenty-one years.

    The only relevant definition of “resident” that I can find is the definition of residency for voting purposes in SDCL 12-1-4, the statute DFP Bill #2 amends. You tell me, Robin: have you fixed your habitation in Rapid City? Do you intend to return to Rapid City? Is your current presence in Utah a temporary absence?

    I’d say that if you can answer yes to those questions, then you satisfy the legal residency requirement. But the voters would decide for themselves. Then, if you won, the Legislature would decide, because, as Lee Schoenbeck explained in 2014 when he was threatening to challenge Burt Elliott’s residency if he won the District 3 House race, each chamber is the ultimate judge of election results and qualifications to serve, per SD Const. Art. 3 Sec. 9. For what it’s worth, the Legislature addressed a challenge on residency grounds to the seating of Rodney Gutzler, who voted in Minnesota in 1974, moved to Salem in 1975, and won a House seat in the 1976 election. The House seated Gutzler.

  90. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    Jake mentions Buffalo Chip, a town incorporated by petition of no permanent residents. Is that incorporation acceptable?

  91. Robin Page 2016-01-11

    Thanks Cory for the information. Yes, Yes and Yes. If the State Legislature refuses to deal with this issue during this years session, a challenge would be in order. I would love to be the one who openly challenges with all the facts and issues right out front for the voters to know. Isn’t this how we make government accountable?

  92. Bill Dithmer 2016-01-11

    Donald Pay 13:38 is right on target. It would seem that the radical right arent the only ones that want to fix something help the vote totals to slant their way.

    Hasnt the talk until now been about getting people “to” vote? Not trying to keep them from voting. Oh the hypocrisy!

    The Blindman

  93. grudznick 2016-01-11

    No, Mr. H. In the 4th blog post way up top I said I could overlook all of your disenfranchising of other voters if you got rid of Buffalo Chip City as part of your bill. Maybe you should just have a 2 line law bill that says “If you only have a mailbox in SD or are registered to vote at Buffalo Chip City then you can’t vote.”

    That leaves all the Nomads, the campground hosts, the Indians staying with relatives, the homeless sleeping and living in parks, and the people living in another country for the moment but entitled to vote in South Dakota alone.

  94. leslie 2016-01-11

    Special elections dont bring in many voters so RV impact is light. Nov 2016 Will bring in thousands of republican RV votes which is designed to elimininate any possibility of minority candidate success.

  95. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-11

    Robin, I think you’d have a long row to hoe with voters first, but it would be interesting to see how Republicans would respond to Democrats using the RV law to their advantage. Then again, the Republicans might sue the issue simply to ridicule Democrats for not being able to find anyone on site and not feel compelled to change the law unless it turned out you could run a close campaign.

  96. leslie 2016-01-11

    …in dist 33.

  97. Robin Page 2016-01-11

    Cory – If I were to have such a campaign, I would run as an Independent or as a NP. It would not be fair to any Democrat to have a Primary. Better yet, maybe I should run as a Republican…

  98. Bill Fleming 2016-01-11

    Hmmm… Maybe Robin could recruit her own “voters” via social media. Open a mailbox and sign them up in the millions! (Sales pitch to Dems in heavy Dem states… California, for example: Why waste your vote on Nancy Pelozi? Robin Page needs your vote worse than she does! Become a South Dakotan, and let’s rock a Red State!”) Since Dems have an open primary, anybody could vote for her… wouldn’t have to register as a Dem. Could be fun. :-)

  99. grudznick 2016-01-11

    How about this? Instead of disenfranchising so many people like the homeless, Indians, Nomads, elderly campground hosts, ex-pats, etc, we pass a simple law that says all RV mailbox businesses have to be in a conservative district? Since everybody seems so worried that it’s these rich RVers just punching R, R, R, some some bunch of roadtrip pirates then it really wouldn’t affect anything if they were all gerrymandered into District 30, would it?

  100. leslie 2016-01-11

    The town of buff chip, likely inspired by drinking lawyer buddies Chelborad/woodruff, and the Chicago Cop, for the Free Liquor License Upon Incorporation, need Local Family Homesteaded Land For Their New Road By Emminent Domain.

  101. grudznick 2016-01-11

    That’s right, they want a new road don’t they. I had figured about the booze papers, and then there’s the sales tax plan Ron’s cooked up…but if Mr. H amends his law to say “there is hereby dissolved the town of Buffalo Chip” then this problem is fixed.

  102. Les 2016-01-11

    leslie is flat on target with buff chip. I have a friend along the new road coming, not happy about their wonderful little world being taken over. This whole RV business has a Buffalo Chip smell to me.

  103. grudznick 2016-01-11

    We should not disenfranchise voters to stick it to a bunch of rich biker hillbillies who want a new road.

  104. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-12

    Grudz actually gets me thinking: to avoid concern about disenfranchising genuine residents who either cannot afford or choose not to have a house or apartment, what if we narrow the law to leave the definition of residency alone but simply state that no one can list a rented mailbox on a voter registration application? Or that a commercial address cannot be used for voter registration?

  105. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-12

    Robin, maybe your campaign could become the test case for the power of the RV vote. You could focus on recruiting those RV voters. Run as an Independent, send out postcards touting yourself as a Trump/Sanders anti-establishment candidate, say a few provocative things, promise to defend RV rights (no taxation with representation!), send instructions on absentee ballots, and see how many take a moment to mark your name.

  106. grudznick 2016-01-12

    There you go, Mr. H. You have fixed it. And now disolve Buffalo Chip City with your law and it will be perfect.

  107. barry freed 2016-01-12

    From the RCJ:

    The number of voters from the precinct who voted “yes” and “no” is not known. In a move intended to save time and money, the vote-counting software purchased for the election was programmed to produce only a countywide result. All of the ballots were mixed together and, because of that, precinct-level results cannot now be obtained even if they are desired, according to Lori Severson, the county’s elections supervisor in the Auditor’s Office. She did not have an immediate estimate of the amount of money saved by purchasing the non-precinct-sorted software.

    So how much time and money does it save for a computer to not count a number of ballots that ten people could count in one hour? Without a paper trail, our votes are less than meaningless.

  108. barry freed 2016-01-12

    What I took away from your first link was a group of people sharing notes on how to spend the absolute least time they could in SD. There was zero discussion of state politics or improving quality of life here. To save $20, most will become Texans.

  109. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-12

    Barry, I agree: including a “precinct” tag on the record for each vote should be a trivial expense, maybe one line of code, maybe just a few extra characters within one line of code, and then not even a megabyte of memory (in an era when the cost of storage under a terabyte is trivial).

    Grudz, has Buffalo Chip formed a city council yet?

  110. Tasiyagnunpa 2016-01-12

    Cory, asking about same day registration, I think that would be awesome IF the voter could prove that they were living in South Dakota, or somehow had ongoing relationship with the area. Many tribal people and homeless for that matter, do keep an address with a relative.

    What if RVers, etc., just didn’t vote in local elections, unless meeting residency requirements of some sort. I just don’t want to see state-level and national elections being off limits to people who are obvious South Dakota and/or American citizens.

    FYI I can’t vote in tribal elections in Pine Ridge, since I don’t keep an address there, despite being a tribal member.

  111. Madman 2016-01-12

    Like I said…..South Dakota should look at adding Minnesota voter registration laws.

    I do agree that their needs to be a minimum number of days of at last 20 for a state resident to vote in that precinct.

  112. Donald Pay 2016-01-12

    Wisconsin has same day registration. You need to show a utility bill or bank statement that has your name and address to prove you are a “resident.” Homeless folks can vote by getting a letter from a shelter or an organization that serves homeless people.

    Republicans didn’t want to mess with that because it’s popular. So here’s what the Republicans have done: they require you to show an ID to actually vote. The funny part is the ID doesn’t have to actually have your real address on it. It just has to show your name, and be an official state ID. Kind of cuckoo, right? Well, not if you want your poll checkers to sow confusion at the polls by challenging voters, creating longer lines and discouraging black folks from voting. It has nothing to do with stopping “voter fraud,” which Republicans admit is virtually non-existent. It’s about disrupting voting on election day.

  113. Robin Page 2016-01-12

    Excellent ideas Bill and Cory! We could have a whirlwind of a campaign challenging the status quo on who can vote, where they vote and how to change the value of their vote. Even if the campaign was not a “win”, in my opinion it would be worth every dollar spent on it. Giving all of this some serious thought. Please continue to share your ideas about this plan of action.

  114. leslie 2016-01-12

    Yup, Don. Repubs use a two-sided coin as u described. Then they flip it and give away residency to one-nighters in RVs to gerrymander a susecptible district. Vicious.
    Republicans are unscrupulous as is are their party’s tactics

  115. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-12

    Madman, how do we legally establish 20 days’ presence?

    I support same-day registration wholeheartedly. I will accept an amendment to this bill including that provision. Heck, I’d even take a hoghouse that turns this bill into nothing but.

  116. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-12

    Robin, you know how hard it is to campaign. What do you think the chances are of the campaign you talk about making a difference? What results do you want to see for your investment of time, effort, and donors’ money?

  117. bearcreekbat 2016-01-15

    There is another huge problem with this proposal – it assumes, without citing a single piece of evidence, that RV-ers will register here because SD has no income tax, and then spend their glory days out west or down south. The underlying problem with that assumption is that Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Texas, Washington and Wyoming also do not have a state income tax. Why in the world would someone with little or no connection to South Dakota register here to avoid an income tax when they have so many other states available, including states that are likely much closer to their travels?

  118. Madman 2016-01-15

    Pretty easy, you have them list their address and what did they established residency at that place when they register to vote.

  119. bearcreekbat 2016-01-30

    I just happened on to Kiplinger’s map showing the ten best states for avoiding taxes and South Dakota did not make the list. While SD is considered “tax friendly” ten other states are “most tax friendly.” I think this probably kicks the rug out of any argument that out-of-state RV-ers register here in SD for tax advantages. Such evidence makes it highly unlikely that folks seeking to avoid state taxes would pick SD to register in rather than one of the ten much more favorable options.

  120. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-31

    Interesting map and ratings, BCB! If Arizona is more tax-friendly, why don’t the snowbirds and itinerants all register there?

  121. bearcreekbat 2016-02-01

    Exactly Cory. The theory that RV-ers register in SD to avoid taxes does not appear to be supported by the evidence regarding other states’ tax policies. There is apparently a different reason for claiming SD as the home state – probably the ties to SD that the RV-er has from family, friends, and/or history. Let them vote!

  122. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01

    Hang on, BCB—I feel some cart and horse there. You produce data showing that South Dakota isn’t the best tax-dodgers’ haven, but that doesn’t prove that the RVers are reading that same data and optimizing their choices. Plenty of RVers cite South Dakota’s lower taxes as a primary reason for registering here:

    Many full-time RVers choose South Dakota for their domicile state, and I’ve discussed the reasons before. No state income tax, only a 3% sales tax on vehicle and RV purchases, a base state sales tax of 4% (although in the Madison and Sioux Falls area they add 2% onto that), and because it’s easy to become a resident. Their vehicle registration fees went up in July 2011, but are still reasonable – cheaper than South Carolina and Wisconsin were anyway [Becky Schade, “Setting up South Dakota Residency for RVers (Pt. 1),” Interstellar Orchard, 2012.11.12].

    Minihaha county in Sioux Falls has it, $4 x 10 wheels is still a whole lot cheaper than the property tax we paid in NC….

    I have been flip flopping between TX and SD as to which to choose for my domicile state. I was leaning slightly toward SD, but now that they have 3 recent strikes against them, the wheel tax (along with the recent registration and tax increases) being the third, the unavailability of health insurance and the requirement to return every 5 years and spend a night rather than every 10 yrs for DL renewal being the second and third, so I am now leaning in the direction of TX to call home. Politicians need to realize that their state is essentially in the customer service business, competing with other states for a full-timer’s business in the free market. Their potential domicile customers can and will leave (we all have wheels) if thy feel they can get a better value for their money elsewhere. Whenever any business chooses to raise the price of its product or service some customers will leave and shop at their competition. Finding a balance that maximizes revenue is difficult. They may have pushed many over the edge with this last straw breaking the camels back, at least for this dromedary….

    In the grand scheme of things I don’t see this as a deal breaker. We have paid wheel tax in Lake County since we started. When I factor everything together this is still cheaper than paying property tax and all the other assorted expenses if living in a stick and brick house….

    When we began full timing ten years ago, two things about being a South Dakota resident stood out; the low excise tax (then 3%, now 4) and the lower vehicle insurance. In the years since, we’ve bought two motorhomes and five tow vehicles, saving over $10,000 in sales tax over what we’d have paid in Texas. This is why I don’t consider the wheel tax a burden….

    So I pay a small wheel tax…it does not add up to the emissions fees and trailer inspection fees required by Texas. Plus I am money ahead on the purchase on our new fifth wheel at 3% sales tax over the Texas sales tax….

    We just registered our car and RV in SD and even with the wheel tax the total for BOTH vehicles including taxes, title, registration, plates, etc?
    LESS THAN $200. Yes TWO HUNDRED dollars
    That’s for BOTH COMBINED.
    We changed the title of the same RV in California to our names 18 months ago (it was already registered in CA) and that vehicle alone was close to $2000.00
    Wheel tax? I love it….[various commenters, “SD Wheel Tax,” RV Network: Escapees Discussion Forum, July–August, 2015]

    My Dakota Address, Dakota Post, SD Mail Forwarding, America’s Mailbox, and My Home Address all spotlight low South Dakota taxes as a primary reason to do business with them. Even if some evidence shows smart shoppers can find more tax savings elsewhere, the businesses and many customers contend they find lower taxes here.

  123. Nick Nemec 2016-02-01

    It sounds as though we need to increase some taxes to cleanse our state of these freeloaders.

  124. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01

    You know, Nick, I’m o.k. with pursuing tax reform before pursuing voting residence reform. We’d solve more problems… but we’d also face a bigger battle.

  125. Les 2016-02-01

    Yes, Nick, those freeloaders just like the welfare free loaders so many worry about. I welcome any who wish to come to SD and spend into our fragile economy.

    Something about the idea, that RV folks are inherently Pub, could only emanate from the minds of folks who are very dissatisfied with their personal life expectations and forward that dissatisfaction onto someone or something they hate.

    I’m not an RV person but know them to be of all colors both in flesh and political identity.

    The biggest problems I see with SD Dems, few get out and spend support money and burn the pavement knocking on doors.

  126. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01

    Les, I promise to knock on all of those RVers doors. :-) I also promise not to test them for drugs without probable cause.

  127. Les 2016-02-01

    But, if ya smell it, that’s probable cause. ;).

    Cory, few in SD put in the effort to make our state a better place to live than you do. Whether I agree with you or not, I’m willing to get behind a great deal of what you support in that you show compromise.

    Unless you’re carried in such as a Gosch, it takes a great deal of effort and dollars to win elections.

  128. bearcreekbat 2016-02-01

    Cory, those are interesting anecdotal stories and I would agree that some folks might make the residence decision based on an incorrect assessment of actual cost. I note that one RV-er in your story was from South Carolina, a state ranked highly tax favorable – more so than SD. But Kiplinger reported that the rest of the examples, Texas, Wisconsin, and North Carolina were all less tax favorable than SD, although a RV website stated that Texas and SD are the two top choices for RV-ers to claim residence.

    Meanwhile, it appears that Wyoming would have SD beat on tax policies and is geographically comparable to SD. My theory is that based on the general evidence (rather than anecdotal stories) a careful RV tax avoider would easily choose Wyoming over SD, especially if they were smokers. Market Watch reports that Wyoming: “In addition to having no personal income tax, its overall tax burden is just 6.9%, the lowest in the U.S., according to the Tax Foundation.”

    Based on the above linked RV website’s report, however, more RV-ers choose SD and Texas than Wyoming. Perhaps that means most RV-ers are really not that obsessed with getting the lowest tax rates, but as motivated by other unrelated factors.

  129. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01

    BCB, your conclusion about other factors could be true. Or it may be that the more tax-friendly states don’t have RV mailbox companies tapping that market as hard. Maybe those other states have better economic development policies that allow them to have lower tax rates thanks to their growing wealth.

  130. headshrinkerstinker 2016-09-14

    caheidelberger : Your attitude and unprofessionalism disgusts me.

    1) To refer to full-time RV’er/nomad as “tax cheats” is wrong. Most would gladly register their vehicles and get their driver’s licenses in their former states, but most states will not let them without a physical address. Fortunately, a handful of states are more welcoming, like South Dakota. Whether or not your state has state income tax or inheritance tax is your problem. I don’t care. Many nomads would still flock to South Dakota to make it their domicile. Having no income tax is just a fringe benefit. And what about all the senior citizens who move to Florida to escape the harsh winters? Florida is also income tax free. They have a right to retire where they want.

    2) Your proposal would also disenfrancise RV’er or campers who do actually live full-time in South Dakota. Many boondock (stay on public lands or in Walmart parking lots or on the street for free). Some also stay in campgrounds.

    3) Many Soth Dakota homeless do not live in shelters, for various reasons. They stay in their cars or outside. What about these people? Many use PO boxes.

  131. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-14

    There’s nothing unprofessional in my attitude—can’t we just stick with disagreeing on the policy without making up personal attacks?

    Sure, people have a right to live and travel where they want. People also have a right to vote. But what really qualifies a person to vote in any community’s affairs? Would it be just for me to register to vote in Canadian elections if I visit Winnipeg once a year for a couple nights, or if I simply rent a mailbox there but don’t actually visit?

    Is there a difference we can split here? Surely every American citizen has a right to vote for President, and we must allow those folks to register and vote. But should smaller political subdivisions—states, counties, municipalities, school districts—be able to establish their own residency requirements for their own elections? South Dakota doesn’t let people just walk in and vote; they must at least provide an address and register no more than two weeks before the election. If we can’t require a permanent, inhabitable address, why can we require any address, or any name, or any registration process? Alternatively, if we can require an address, why can we not require that the address be fixed, not a bare lot?

    How many RVers do live full-time in South Dakota but have no fixed address? As with the homeless that we’ve addressed in our discussion, could we craft legislation that would recognize the difference between an itinerant who is present in South Dakota all year round and a mailbox renter who effectively lives in Arizona?

    I’m not trying to take away anyone’s proper rights. I’m trying to figure out exactly what those rights are. I’m trying to figure out what qualifies any citizen to vote in local elections. Please overcome your disgust and help me find an answer to that question.

  132. headshrinkerstinker 2016-09-14

    The reason I said your attitude was unprofessional was because you used the term “tax-dodging RV voters”, thereby making a personal attack against a group. I immediately took offense to this. It implies doing something immoral or illegal. This would never fly as a piece in a legitimate newspaper. I also think the vast majority of full-time RV’ers would object to this being the reason they chose South Dakota. They chose South Dakota because it was one of the few states which would license them. (Besides, what is wrong with choosing a state with no income tax to make one’s residence? Professional sports athletes do it all the time, and choose to go play for Texas or Florida sports teams where there is no income tax. They get paid millions of dollars per year, so the amount is significant.)

    If you meant no harm, I apologize, but people will still take offense to your term as most aren’t tax dodgers and don’t like being called that.

    As for voting locally, I would say you have to take into account the fact that RV’er spend a lot of money on registration fees and vehicle excise taxes here (a Class A RV could cost $200,000 or more), as well as annual mail forwarder company fees. Some also stay in South Dakota for a few months and contribute to the economy. They do this mostly without draining public resources, like school, police, jails, housing, infrastructure, etc. That has to be taken into consideration before limiting voting rights, especially if the issue, like a wheel tax, does affect RV’ers. The county might get money from the state if it imposed a wheel tax, but this, in turn, would anger a lot of the RV’ers who help fund the county, and they may leave.

    I have my registration through Fall River County. I considered switching to Pennington since Fall River imposed a brand-new $2 per wheel wheel tax on me this year. I didn’t in the end for personal reasons, but this is an issue on my mind and will be until all counties get on the same page. It does bother me.

    An issue that does need to be fixed is the requirement to live in a physical residence for 30 days in South Dakota before you can get a concealed carry permit. Right now, full-time RV’ers can’t get this unless they have proof of staying in the state for 30 days. And as most RV’ers know, you do need some type of weapon to defend yourself travelling and sleeping in all kinds of places, from Walmart parking lots to public BLM lands to campgrounds. Cell phone reception may be bad in some areas and police may be far off.

  133. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-15

    Thank you for explaining which specific term set off the “unprofessional” charge. “Tax-dodging” may sound harsh, but if people choose pro forma “residence” based on tax advantage, they are, quite literally, dodging taxes. The sales pitches from mailbox companies and the online discussions about where to register feature tax advantages far more prominently than one would expect of a mere “fringe benefit.”

    Montana Public Radio is a legitimate news source, and they use the term “dodge”:

    Eric Stern at the Secretary of State’s office is aware that out-of-state residents like “Dave” are registering their expensive vehicles here to dodge thousands of dollars in taxes at home. Basically, he says, that’s not Montana’s problem [Steve Jess, “How Montana Became a Tax Haven,” MTPR, 2015.12.18].

    Now to the central issue of voting rights:

    You speak of spending a few months here, contributing to the economy, and not draining public resources. You seem to be offering criteria by which we can determine whether one has the right to participate in local elections. Would a few months qualify, but a few days not?

    And if spending a few days, or just one night, in a town qualifies one to vote in that town’s, school district’s, county’s, and state’s elections, then should we grant “multiple residency” to RVers in every state they visit? Suppose an RVer spends each month in a different state. Or consider the hypothetical RVer you suggest above who spends all year in South Dakota but travels from campground to campground. Do those brief presences in Spearfish, Sturgis, Rapid City, Custer, and Hot Springs entitle the RVer to vote in all five towns’ elections?

  134. headshrinkerstinker 2016-09-15

    You make some good points which are hard to refute. I guess the question is should the residency South Dakota grants nomads allow full voting rights or just partial, or none at all. Maybe for national elections, like for President. But this could also potentially affect whether South Dakota is considered a blue or red state, and whether Republicans or Democrats have the majority in the US Senate. If the state leans red, but a block of RV’ers swings the election so a Democratic Senator or President is elected, many native South Dakotans would be angry. (I know in Maine a decade ago, when their two republican Senators voted not to convict President Clinton during his impeachment trial, the republicans in that state were furious and wanted to recall the Senators.) So are you going to tell full-time RV’ers that they can’t vote at all? I suspect that it may not be a problem with South Dakota, since the demographics of a typical full-time RV’er match closely with the red-leaning natives.

    Regarding “tax dodging”, full-time RV’ers have no choice but to choose another state to get licensed in, as most of their home states won’t do it. They are forced to give up their residency. There are three states which overwhelmingly welcome full-time RV’ers: South Dakota, Texas, and Florida (there are a few others, but there have been problems more problems with those states). All of the three states have no state income tax. So which ever you chose, it will be a state with no income tax. How is that the fault of RV’ers? They effectively can choose from only those three states. They aren’t choosing these states to evade taxes, but to get licenses and be able to travel full-time. If all three states suddenly imposed an income tax, RV’ers would still have no choice but to flock to them to get licensed.

    If states with income taxes don’t like this, maybe they need to imitate more successful states like the three mentioned. Or maybe they need to welcome their former residents who travel full time. If they did this in the first place, most RV’ers would stick to their home state to register and get licensed, out of force of habit. I’m sure they would like going back every so often anyway to see how things have changed and their old friends.

    So my main contention is full time RV’ers who choose this lifestyle are forced by state policies to choose another state where they can get licensed.This is not a choice by them. All three of principal states which they have to chose from have no state income tax. So they cannot choose which state has no income tax since all three primary ones do not anyways. Thus, they are not tax dodgers.

  135. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-17

    I agree that every American citizen deserves the chance to vote. We let soldiers and other global travelers do it when their work takes them overseas for most or all of the year. Living a mobile lifestyle and having no fixed residence should not disenfranchise a citizen.

    Indeed, South Dakotans might be mad if an influx of voters turned us from a GOP state to a real swing state or a Dem state (actually, we shouldn’t mind turning into a swing state, since even more candidates and reporters would come and visit, boosting our economy just like the RVers!).

    But votes for the President we all share are different from votes for local school board, or even votes to create a new “town” out of a campground where no one really lives.

    If some states won’t license RVs at all, then sure, RVers need to go to other states. But the literature clearly indicates that lots of RVers are choosing states based on the ability to avoid paying taxes. That’s a simple and unpleasant fact. I am curious why the states you mention won’t license RVers. What’s their justification? Those states can’t be outlawing RVs completely—what conditions do they require RVers to meet to license their vehicles?

    I would like to see a list: I have a hard time believing that we can really say RVers aren’t making a choice in this matter at all, that we can really shift all responsibility to big meanies in some state governments. All parties involved should take responsibility for their choices.

  136. JD 2017-06-01

    I am a full-time RVer, I am 46 years old and retired. I worked hard all of my life and finished my career oversees. I sold all property in the State I was born and raised in because I have worked all over the US and internationally for all of my career. I chose to move my residency to South Dakota as there are obvious benefits that make good sense to do so and this is not “tax dodging” as you put it. Do you itemize your taxes? Do you try to limit your tax burden? Of course you do, everyone does and if you don’t then you should seek tax advise. I have not read anywhere in these comments (forgive me if I have overlooked it) where tax domicile has been discussed. While not important to those of you who do reside permanently in a State, it is very important to those of us who do travel full time and seek to minimize our tax burden. Everyone’s situation is different and no one here or anywhere else can “broad-brush” everyone that is in this category. I cannot speak for everyone obviously but feel I can say this with confidence that we are not interested in your local elections and I would be surprised if anyone in this category exercised any votes in local elections. We contribute to the local economy in many ways and we come here and spend money here. Many of the people you brand here have lived here all of their life and you simply group everyone into a category and start spouting BS that you have no idea about because you are simply uninformed and then you try to pass a bill through legislation based on your opinions with no factual foundation whatsoever. Whomever wrote this article and tried to pass a bill based on these opinions is one of the things wrong with America these days full of haters and uninformed people who have an opinion based on limited views and information. The very idea and foundation of a democracy is to challenge the status quo and let the people decide which dictates that everyone should vote to obtain the majority consensus. South Dakota is a wonderful State with a lot to offer both to migrant and permanent people. Where it lacks is backwards thinking such as this bill.

  137. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-01

    “can’t speak for everyone absolutely”… so, JD< you're really just expressing an opinion based on limited views and information, right? :-D

  138. JD 2017-06-01

    Spoken like a truly uniformed person and the person who wrote this BS, however you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, thankfully they do not take you seriously. Why don’t you look up some of the information spoken in my comment that you do not understand and get yourself informed? I can assure you that I have done my homework and am very informed on this topic as I live it daily but that isn’t what the discussion is about so I will digress. I added my comments and while they will mean nothing to someone such as yourself, reasonable people will understand.

  139. JD 2017-06-01

    I enjoy a good debate as much as the next person. My father served in the House of Representatives as a Democrat and I was raised as a Democrat in a State that is no overwhelmingly Republican. I have not lived in that State in many years. In fact I have a home in another Country where I enjoy going as well when not traveling here in the US.
    I would like to say that I applaud you for being active locally and running for office but for everyone’s sake should you happen to get elected, speak to the many businesses (Attorneys, insurance agents, parks and wildlife, RV parks, local merchants, etc…) that would suffer in this State so you can be informed. From my experience and time here in SD (I am in Mitchell at the moment), the only people who seem to share your opinion are in elected positions.

  140. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-01

    JD, you get to avoid taxes here in South Dakota specifically because a lot of elected officials do not share my views. Let’s drop the generalizations and shouting of “uninformed” and “opinion” and deal with the issues at hand.

    Shouting “uninformed” and “opinion” isn’t good debate; it’s ad hominem barroom brawling that satisfies some baser urge than commitment to logic and quality rhetoric.

    As you can see from the top of the comment section, many informed commenters have expressed their concern about disenfranchisement, and we had a pretty informed discussion about the topic without having to call each names or otherwise denigrate each other personally.

    Now, in my initial response to your initial comment, all I did was point out that, by your own words, your viewpoint and factual basis seem at least as limited as what you accuse mine of being. So even if there were some merit to the bulk of your critique, it would undermine your position just as much and provide no voting issue in this debate.

    Now, to the facts on paper (or screens):

    Avoiding taxes, dodging taxes—use whichever verb you prefer, the fact remains that you chose your current voting residence because it allows you to pay less in state taxes. You didn’t want to pay your original state’s income tax, so you signed up here. That’s not the same as itemizing one’s federal taxes. The proper analogy is not between your choosing a tax domicile that shields your income from state tax and my itemizing my deductions on my 1040; the proper analogy is your choosing South Dakota as your tax domicile to avoid paying any state income tax and my (hypothetical) choosing to incorporate my business in Ireland to avoid paying any federal income tax.

    Based on reader input, I proposed a clarification of the definition of voting residence in South Dakota law, a definition that is pretty sketchy in current statute. The intent is to ensure that only those who genuinely live in South Dakota can vote on South Dakota issues. If, as you say, you don’t care about local issues, then why would this bill stop you from continuing your tax-avoidance scheme and registering your RV here in Sioux Falls or Madison or Alexandria or Rapid City or wherever?

    Neither of us can assert for sure what percentage of RVers currently vote on South Dakota races and ballot measures. But it is certainly conceivable that non-resident voters could notice a local issue, register to vote here, and sway the vote in ways that do not reflect the will or the welfare of those who have to live with the representation and laws created by those votes. We can easily conceive of a vicious circle: nonresident voters could choose to vote against state income tax and other revenue measures, starving state and local governments so much that, in our desperation, we don’t dare sacrifice whatever meager compensation we get from your RV registrations. More leisurely RVers come, vote to preserve their gravy train, and residents are left holding the bag, trapped in representation that doesn’t really reflect the needs of daily life in South Dakota. That could be a practical problem.

    What about a compromise? How about modified voting rights. Establishing paper/P.O. Box residency allows you to cast your Presidential and Congressional ballots here. State and local offices, however, have additional residency requirements. Does that scratch your itch, or are we stuck with a system in which relatively well-off individuals can choose to escape the cost of paying for local services and cast votes in local elections without bearing the daily consequences?

    Or maybe the problem can’t be solved at the local level. Perhaps we need the federal government to offer RVers statehood… or perhaps, more simply, citizenship in the District of Columbia. States can still offer to sell you license plates, but if you don’t really live in a specific place, then you can get your ballot from the nation’s capital and vote in the Presidential election.

    Finally, the fact that a business would suffer, by itself, does not excuse inaction against injustice. A business could be exploiting an immoral practice; hurting such an immoral business would actually be good. I’m not saying an itinerant lifestyle is immoral (actually, I would agree it has its great pleasures). I’m not saying that offering mailbox services is immoral—people travel, and why should we expect everyone to have a house or an apartment if they can find other suitable accommodations? I am willing to argue that an industry based on encouraging people to dodge state taxes has a sort of parasitic effect that is unhealthy for all communities and perhaps for local representative democracy.

  141. JD 2017-06-02

    You lost me again when you feel that you know mine or anyone else situation…If SD turned into an income tax State I would be paying income tax as soon as that occurred…I choose to travel and enjoy the fruits of my labor and there are 3 States that we can choose from. As someone has already pointed out to you..I chose SD for my own reasons and I can assure you it was not to avoid a tax…In fact I paid 2% more in excise tax when I registered my vehicles here…I have not lived in the US for many years and no longer own a physical residence here…
    Now I will say that this will be my last comment and the last time I view this post as I have said what I have to say and while your last comment appears to be the most intelligent string of sentences you have strung together in my opinion, you are still beating a dead drum and no one is or will be listening…If there was a chance of you getting elected I cannot see how as there is quite a bit of negative information about you on the web and no sane person can take you seriously…
    Good Day

  142. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-02

    I make an effort, I even offer compromise, and this is the thanks I get. Gee whiz.

    “This will be my last comment” usually translates as, “What? I expressed my opinion, and you dared critique it? I didn’t want intelligent rebuttal and questioning; I just wanted to spout off to throw some insults and assert my moral superiority. How dare you rebut and question me!”

    Notice again the resort to insult, delegitimization, and marginalization: You don’t agree with me, you refuse to affirm my rightness, so you must be not just wrong but negative, insane, and not worth anyone’s attention. Notice that I resorted to no such language about JD: I simply dealt with the facts and statements as presented. Sigh.

  143. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    I am opposed to you calling full-time rv’ers “tax evaders”. They are not. For example, many full-timers are from California, but as full-timers, they never return to the state. They don’t use their roads, vote there, take advantage of their services, etc. So why should they continue paying high California income and registration taxes? It is better to choose a state with no income tax, like South Dakota. Cory, you would do the exact same thing if you were to become a full-time nomad. You know I speak the truth. So are you a tax evader??

  144. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-16

    Arguing hypotheticals (where would Cory register if he were a full-time RVer?) gets us nowhere. It only allows people who can’t defend their argument on facts alone to resort to unprovable and hence unarguable fantasy.

    The comment above shows that my words are literally true. Individuals who don’t want to pay taxes in California and who thus register their vehicles in South Dakota are evading California taxes. Objecting to the use of accurate language is bad.

    But for what the hypothetical is worth, If I became a full-time RVer, I would continue to register my vehicles and declare my residency in South Dakota, because I want to keep voting in South Dakota elections. :-)

  145. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    If the full-time nomads no longer live in California, why should they still consider themselves residents of that state? What taxes are they evading when they don’t live there or use their services?

    The fact is nomads are basically restricted to just a few states that have more liberal RV’er residency laws, like SD, TX, and FL. It just so happens that those are also the states with no state income or dividend taxes. Among those few states, they are free to choose. Why wouldn’t they choose the state that benefits them the most? Businesses and pro athletes do this all the time.

    Why do so many businesses incorporate in Delaware, or move out of California, which is not business friendly?

    Furthermore, why would you not welcome full-time RV’ers, who pay SD’s registration and RV taxes, but do not drain the local economy by demanding services, such as schools or infrastructure? By not welcoming these people to your state, you are acting like a conservative Republican, who tend to be xenonphobic.

  146. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-16

    I think I already answered the question and insinuation in the last paragraph in my original post and subsequent discussion: I’m asking a philosophical question about whether people who don’t live in a community should get to vote on the affairs of a community. That’s very different from the conservative Republican xenophobia, which is trying to keep people from joining a community based on religion, national origin, or other factors. I make no such attempt to keep anyone from joining our community. I am saying, though, that folks who only marginally “join” our community by using us as a tax shelter could negatively affect electoral outcomes for those of us who actually live in the community. Very different from the “xenophobia” you blithely introduce into the conversation.

    Of course, you sound a little afraid of the locals, since you won’t use your real name. :-D

  147. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    Cory Allen Heidelberger wrote: “that folks who only marginally “join” our community by using us as a tax shelter”

    There are only a few states in the the union where full-time RV’ers can register their vehicles and get a driver’s license. The three easiest are SD, TX, and FL. There are a few others such as TN or NV, but they make it harder due to residency restrictions and other hoops to jump through. Is it the fault of RV’ers that South Dakota has no income tax? The full-time RV’er can’t register anyplace else. So if they are forced to register in one of those three states, all of which don’t have income tax (and TN and NV don’t either), how are they tax evaders? You have to be evading your obligations in one state to be considered an evader, yet these people are not evading any obligation since they are not residents of any state. Plus SD needs their money since they have no income tax. So do the other states which have no income tax.

    You are really going to have to change your viewpoint in this matter to gain any respect. I am just trying to help you. Right now, people consider you a lunatic or Republican Trump-supporter, due to your radical views as to what constitutes as a tax evader. I need you to change your viewpoint because you are insulting an entire community based on a false notion. This is something Trump would do.

    Re voting, I don’t think the RV’ers would bother to vote, except for national offices, such as President and Congress. They only time they would vote in local issues would be for stuff that affects them, like wheel taxes. You can’t have it both ways: you want their money from RV registrations but not want to let them vote. It doesn’t work that way. Also, most RV’ers are Democrat. I would think you would support them voting in local elections. Republicans are a dying breed.

    As far as not using my real name, so what? I have no idea who you are, and you have no idea who I am. By using your real name, you make yourself a target to right-wing nuts out there, and I am not willing to do that. Plus, an employer could google me, and if he or she is conservative, I might not get the job. What appears on the Internet is permanent and could come back to bite you later on. That’s what they teach college students now. That’s why my car has no political or religious bumper stickers. I don’t feel like having my tires slashed.

  148. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-16

    I slash no tires. I use my real name on everything I write here. If you don’t trust me enough to let me know who you are, how can I trust you?

  149. Porter Lansing 2017-06-16

    @Head … What state did you sign up for Social Security benefits? South Dakota? If not, the state where you signed up and the state where your benefits go to your bank account is the state you’re avoiding taxes in.

  150. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    Cory: I didn’t say you would slash tires; I am saying nut jobs out there might. Better be safe than sorry in this day and age. Very little out there is published non-anonymously by me. I am just an ordinary, law-abiding citizen.

  151. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16


    First off, social Security is Federal. Thee payments are the same no matter what state or country you live in, and is paid directly from the Federal government, through Federal income taxes.

    Second, my Social Security income (less than $10,000 annually) is below any state income tax threshold.

    BTW, you are allowed to have bank accounts in any state. If you get a 1099-INT for interest income, you pay taxes on that, if any, to the state where you officially reside in, not where the bank is located, so what you say is not true.

    Furthermore, you assumed I get Social Security, which I do, but that was just luck.

  152. Porter Lansing 2017-06-16

    I know the rules of Social Security. The question is where is your Social Security monthly dividend sent? A South Dakota bank?
    It seems that your entire scheme and all the RV’ers alike rides on the statement, “It’s OK because nobody checks.” A PO Box shouldn’t be considered a residence and it certainly shouldn’t include voting rights. But, you get away with it because, “Nobody checks.”

  153. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    Porter said: “It seems that your entire scheme and all the RV’ers alike rides on the statement”

    My entire scheme??? Talk about wild assumptions. I also suggest you direct your arguments to state lawmakers if you don’t like the existing residency and voting laws.

    Where my bank accounts are are none of your business, and irrelevant to the conversation. You can still be a SD resident and not have a bank account in another state. And, btw, Social Security doesn’t send out “monthly dividends”.

    I don’t think I am going to respond further to you at this point, due to a lot of assumptions and incorrect facts on your part.

  154. headshrinkerstinker 2017-06-16

    Should be:

    “You can still be a SD resident and have a bank account in another state”

  155. Porter Lansing 2017-06-16

    You’re Cory’s pigeon. I’m just seeing how much corn you’ll eat before you cough up the truth.

  156. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-06-17

    Don’t forget, the issue here isn’t just the effort to avoid paying taxes; the issue I continue to wonder about is the proper role of non-residents in voting on resident matters.

  157. Julie Porpiglia 2018-01-21

    It looks like you, Cory Allen Heidelberger, are a republican in disguise. You make me want to puke. You are a very hating person, not welcoming of newcomers. I’d hate to see you in a state where there are tons of immigrants, like California or Texas.

    Where do you propose that these RV’er get their licenses? They do so in South Dakota because the state welcomes them. Other states don’t. They are not tax dodgers. To dodge taxes, there has to be a state that they are dodging taxes from. Where is that? hey don’t have one, as they travel full-time. Why can’t you understand something so simple that others here have tried to explain to you?

    What a moron you are. You are a snake.

  158. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-22

    Julie, I am certainly not a Republican, nor do I wear disguises.

    I welcome newcomers. But are RVers really “newcomers” if they don’t really come here, other than for a day or two to buy a license plate?

    I welcome visitors, too. Notice, Julie, that nothing in my proposal would deny you the privilege of buying your license plates and getting your driver license here. So what’s your beef?

    I welcome lots of immigrants, which we have here in Aberdeen. But tell me, Julie: do you support giving immigrants the right to vote after they spend a night in town and get a driver license?

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