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Tieszen Files Anti-RV-Voter Bill

Last night I noted that that the main idea of a Dakota Free Press readers’ bill on requiring 80% landowner consensus to invoke eminent domain has been filed as a real bill in the South Dakota Legislature. Now I notice a second Dakota Free Press readers’ bill has popped up in the real Legislative hopper!

Senate Bill 164 is the measure on clarifying voter residence that Senator Craig Tieszen promised to bring to address concerns about tax-dodging RVers who don’t really live in South Dakota registering to vote here and swaying our elections. It adds the following language to our currently somewhat fuzzy SDCL 12-1-4 defining voter residence:

No person may register to vote using a business location, campground, or post office box as the registration address. However, if no other residential address or valid physical description of the location of the residence is available, the person may appeal to the county auditor in the county of registration. The county auditor shall determine residency based on the following principles:

  1. The sole basis for the person’s presence at the location is not based on a business or a commercial use, such as a mail forwarding service;
  2. The residence of the person is a place in which the person’s habitation is fixed and to which the person has a definite plan to return following an absence;
  3. The person is not claiming residency of the state solely for taxation or insurance purposes with no intention of physically remaining or returning; and
  4. The person maintains a physical domicile with long-term sleeping accommodations at the residence.

If the county auditor denies the registration, the person may appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners as a contested case pursuant to chapter 1-26D for the determination of residency. If the person does not meet the principles listed, the administrative law judge may still choose to allow voter registration if the judge determines circumstances indicate legitimate residence of the state. Prior long-term residence in the state shall be considered proof of intention to return to the state [Senate Bill 164, filed 2016.02.04].

Compare Senator Tieszen’s language to the conditions this blog proposed adding to the definition of voter residence before Session began in DFP Bill #2:

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 [“Dakota Free Press Bill #2: Clarifying Voting Residence in South Dakota,” Dakota Free Press, 2016.01.10].

We and Tieszen both ban post office boxes, campgrounds, and businesses as voter registration addresses. DFP Bill #2 goes further in specifying types of addresses that would pass muster for voter registration.

Compare further the language DFP Bill #2 offers for determining valid addresses:

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 [DFP Bill #2, 2016.01.10].

DFP Bill #2 directs election officials to go check addresses for actual physical domiciles with sleeping accommodations. SB 164 includes that point as the fourth criterion a county auditor would use to determine the validity of a voter address. But Senator Tieszen also includes a criterion that directly challenges the itinerants who set up “residence” at a South Dakota mailbox solely for lower taxes and cheaper insurance.

Notice that Senator Tieszen’s four criteria are linked by an “and,” which indicates that a county auditor may reject a voter registration under SB 164 only if all four criteria are met. Absent that “and”, devious Democrats could use that “solely for taxation and insurance purposes” criterion to strike from the voter rolls Dennis Daugaard and any other Republicans who brag about South Dakota’s low taxes. Hee hee!

But Senator Tieszen’s extended criteria also make SB 164 as hard to enforce as the current definition of voter residence. His criteria speak of the person’s “plan” and “intention.” Intent is exactly the word that fuzzifies the current definition: how does a county auditor know that the person submitting a voter registration card doesn’t intend to come back to South Dakota? How does a county auditor know that an RVer renting a lot at the “City” of Buffalo Chip doesn’t have a plan to come back next year, buy some land, and build a good solid yurt?

SB 164 includes prior long-term residence in South Dakota as proof of intention to return. That clause addresses the concern expressed by frequent commenter Bearcreekbat that DFP Bill #2 would disenfranchise his RVing relatives who are lifelong South Dakotans but are now enjoying retirement on the open road. But SB 164’s prior-residence allowance would also allow a person who lived here for a few years as a kid, then went away to college, lived and worked elsewhere, but now has retired and registered an RV in Hanson County to get low taxes and cheap license plates to count as a resident voter.

We will not find perfect, absolute language, but Senator Tieszen might want to consider paring down his criteria to the objective ones that don’t require a county auditor to read an applicant’s mind: commercial nature of the address, presence of a permanent domicile with long-term sleeping quarters, and prior long-term residence.

But even so amended, SB 164 still raises the same concern as DFP Bill #2 does among many readers: fundamentally, these bills make it harder for certain people to vote. Amidst numerous Republican attempts to make it harder for Indians, low-income folks, and others to vote, can we Democrats in good conscience support a bill that makes it harder for travelers who tend to be wealthier, older, and whiter(?) to vote?


  1. Owen 2016-02-05 07:47

    If they want to vote let them actually move to South Dakota.
    They’ve restricted themselves.

  2. John 2016-02-05 09:32

    Another solution in search of an imaginary problem. There is NO statistical evidence that these vagabonds influenced one local South Dakota election. No wonder the legislature is incapable of solving real problems – there are so many imaginary ones begging solutions. Take the vagabonds money.

  3. bearcreekbat 2016-02-05 10:31

    At least the DFP #2 proposal allowed homeless folks to register to vote. It doesn’t look like Tieszen’s bill addresses that issue. Perhaps he thinks homeless folks vote for Democrats?

    And I still don’t quite get the Republican angst over someone that they think wants to avoid or reduce their tax burden. I thought avoiding paying taxes was a fundamental conservative principle. Now Tieszen wants to disenfranchise conservatives for trying to save tax money by claiming SD as a legal residence – how is that consistent with conservatives’ anti-tax paranoia?

  4. jerry 2016-02-05 10:31

    You cannot purchase a health insurance policy, be it a Medicare supplement or health insurance if you use a campground as your physical address. You must reside in the state.

  5. Sue Roust 2016-02-05 10:50

    Any proposal that requires giving an address that actually has a building where people can sleep may prevent the homeless from registering. Currently, a person can give a location like a park or “under the 6th Street bridge” when registering.

    In response to John, RV’ers have definitely affected elections in SD, especially legislative races. When I was Minnehaha County Auditor, I did studies comparing the absentee vote and precinct vote in high RV’er precincts (like the one with Tower Campground on W 12th St in SF). There were dramatic differences, in both legislative races and ballot issues. The RV vote was heavily Republican and swung some legislative races.

  6. Mark Winegar 2016-02-05 10:54

    Voting is a privilege of citizenship. Why not use the same criteria for voter registration as we do for issuing a driver’s license, minus the driving tests?

  7. Bill Dithmer 2016-02-05 10:55

    South Dakotas legislature suffers from comprehensive constipation.

    The Blindman

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-05 19:52

    Hold on—voting is a right, not a privilege, right?

    Sue and BCB appear to be correct: Tieszen’s bill is harder on the homeless, making it impossible for them to vote. Look at his Criterion #4 for auditors to consider appeals: “The person maintains a physical domicile with long-term sleeping accommodations at the residence.” Homeless people do not maintain any physical domicile. To consider voting for this bill, legislators need to change that language.

  9. Les 2016-02-05 20:25

    Why not just outlaw RV folks from SD? We don’t need their junk. Poor Democrats from Arkansas with 15 kids and four dogs living in someone’s back yard influencing erections in some legislative districts.

  10. grudznick 2016-02-05 20:30

    This was your DFP bill, Mr. H, that everybody beat you verbally about the head and shoulders because you were disenfranchising voters. Good, nice, homeless Democrat voters.

    I guess Mr. Tieszen has decided to drive it home for you.

  11. grudznick 2016-02-05 20:31

    In the legislatures, I have no doubt they are already calling this the Heidelberger Disenfranchiser Bill.

  12. grudznick 2016-02-05 20:35

    Heidelberger, that Disenfranchiser…
    the Disenfrachiser Heidelberger Bill…
    dammit, Disenfrachised like a Heidelberger Bill hit me upside the head…
    Disenfrachised as Heidelberger made us all…
    I got Coryed…
    Booyah, that Disenfranchising was a real Heidelbergian Mess…

    That’s only what’s been said so far. I bet there are 4 or 6 weeks yet to go in the legislatures for Mr. Tieszen to float around his bill points to the other legislatures. I’m just sayin…

  13. leslie 2016-02-05 20:36

    John- the north-side dist. 33 Rapid City had 3000 RV votes dumped into the ballots in 2014, swinging republican.

  14. grudznick 2016-02-05 20:52

    I have yet to being to understand why all these RVers are so 90% republican. I guess others just flat out hate driving, or touring around seeing the sights and being a curious fine tourist of the world.

    As a poor old man I see these monster RVs that cost a quarter of a mil or more, puffing out plumes of smoke as they chug up the hill by Ruby Tuesday. I know they are swilling some of the best Scotch singles, probably Aberlour or Glenfiddich or the Glenlivits. Probably in fancy glasses.

    Damn. Those bastards.
    Abhore their desire to vote.
    Those bastards are fat.

  15. Curt 2016-02-05 21:04

    Cory – Do you re-write the Grudz’ comments to make him seem smarter? Or is he just that damned brilliant? /cp

  16. grudznick 2016-02-05 21:05

    Mr. H sends me ideas to blog.

  17. leslie 2016-02-05 21:31

    crstygrudz-it may have something to do with the mail they receive vs. the political mail that gets thrown away by the ex-Chicago cop in daugaard’s pocket. just sayin’ Einstein.

  18. leslie 2016-02-05 21:33

    there may not be a legal concept more manipulated than a residency definition. there are thousands

  19. leslie 2016-02-05 21:34

    oh, maybe eminent domain

  20. owen reitzel 2016-02-05 22:08

    Democrats don’t have money for RVs

  21. Don Coyote 2016-02-05 22:10

    @Mark Winegar: The SD Constitution states – “1. Right to vote. Elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”

  22. John 2016-02-05 22:54

    I stand by the claim: RVers and vagabonds voting did not change a single election. Just saying they did, Sue, Leslie, is not proof.

  23. Don Coyote 2016-02-06 00:30

    @John: I agree. Besides the proposed legislation appears to conflict with Federal legislation and court cases concerning durational residency. Our neighbors to the north don’t even have state registration of voters.

  24. mike from iowa 2016-02-06 05:59

    What is so hard to understand? RVer= wingnut(rethuglican) voter.

  25. leslie 2016-02-06 10:30

    oh yea john–give us some proof to support your statement.

    I worked for the election here in RC then. afterwards a candidate who lost asked me to look into it. that 3000 figure came from the candidate who looked at the numbers in the district.

    watch, john will attack my proof but fail to provide his own, backing his statement. why do you think tieszen is attacking the concept?

  26. leslie 2016-02-06 10:51

    john-u’ve heard of the voting rights act, the civil rights movement, reconstruction…? jim crow is a two-step dance around minority voting power. dist. 33 is in RC, last election. somebody in SD DOESN’T WANT MINORITY VOTERS TO SWING ELECTIONS. the RV vote is part of the two-step.

  27. John Wrede 2016-02-06 10:58

    Residency, in spite of all this legislative gynastics, remains an unresolved and unfair issue. If you carefully read the laws of residency in this state, and you figure all the angles, you can be a non-resident alien and vote in South Dakota. Unless things have changed significantly in the past 5-6 years, a person who is actually a Swedish National, owns a small home in central Rapid City with detached garage; he owns a motor vehicle, licenses that motor vehicle in SD, has a South Dakota drivers license in addition to an international drivers license, is registered to vote in Pennington County and he resides here on a temporary basis, usually from April through November either in the small house or on property slightly north of Hiway 40 east of Hermosa. Near the end of November, he returns to Switzerland after purchasing Indian Artifacts and art from the Reservations and conducting small tours of Black Hills attractions and the reservations that are neither taxed nor accounted for in the US. This man doesn’t pay sales taxes on anything except gas and food nor do his clients. Every transaction for either art or recreational tours takes place in Europe so this man doesn’t pay income tax. He pays property tax on his small home and a small amount of sales tax to feed and transport his tourism clients. This guy even gets resident hunting and fishing licenses. The RV loophole in our residency law is only the tip of the ice berg.

  28. leslie 2016-02-06 11:08

    phil Jensen, ALEC and the KOCHS HAVE SET UP SHOP IN SD for “…an all-out assault on [minority]… political power.

    Millions of dollars of mystery money poured into North Carolina’s midterm elections, funding propaganda campaigns to rival those of 1898.

    A far-right takeover of the state’s General Assembly in 2010 led to gerrymandered voting districts and, in 2012, a conservative win in the governor’s office. The stage was set…. North Carolina [passed] … the worst voter-suppression bill of the 21st century.”

    john, this is one reason DEMS are concerned. why aren’t you?

  29. Dannel R Weaver 2016-02-09 18:13

    I served in the US military for 27.5 years, around the globe.

    I worked a full 2nd career, then sold my home, and travel MY nation in a RV.

    You want to strip me of my voting rights??

    Expect to see me on national TV programs detailing how SD has chosen to strip a disabled veteran who served 27.5 years on active duty of my voting rights simply because I choose to live in a Recreational Vehicle!

    If you strip me of my voting rights I will sue the sate, the 2 idiots who proposed this, and raise hell with my fellow veterans nation wide! You will NOT take my voting rights without a huge fight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. custerhank 2016-02-09 18:33

    We were “fulltime” RV-ers for 6 years. We did not use SD as a “domicile” during that time (used a different state) and now legally live in Custer, in a real house, most of the year. We still have an RV and sometimes head south for the winter. We are members of an RV club which provides a support system for many of those folks who do not have a “stick house” but live an RV. I have some pretty good background on the full-time life style and know literally thousands of those folks. Full-timing it does not include “packing” elections, but is simply an alternative lifestyle.
    I would like to see the facts about “expatriate” RV-ers swaying elections. Just because you say it doesn’t make it so. You might be trying to “right a wrong” but this bill will not only affect elections but the livelihood of hundreds (thousands?) of RV-ers who legally domiciled in SD. I am already hearing from some RV-ers about difficulties with medical insurance in SD causing to change domiciles. If there is no real voter impact why would SD want to alienate all those folks who spend big bucks on vehicle registration, camping fees etc.?

  31. leslie 2016-02-09 19:12

    mr. weaver and mr. hank-as you know we have every sympathy for voting rights. we do not like how SDGOP causes 3000 RV votes are being unceremoniously dumped into a district on the poor, gerrymandered part of Rapid City (stretches from north rapid west into the national forest way over on the west side) District 33. Dump those 3000 republican majority votes into a wealthy district. quit trying to neutralize democratic districts!!

  32. Les 2016-02-09 19:18

    Allowing the house to burn because there is a stink in the bathroom, leslie?

  33. jerry 2016-02-09 20:31

    I am wondering how RVers even know about local elections. As I am not one of them it seems to me that they are always traveling from place to place. How could someone from Alabama that has a mail box here even know who Tieszen is? I would also ask the question on where they have their health insurance domiciled. Insurance companies have to have proof that you are a legal resident of the state before they issue you a policy a mailbox will not work. As this is also about the homeless, how do we know the voter is not registered some place else and votes there?

  34. leslie 2016-02-09 20:47

    aw les, I was all nice about you in your tiff w/young dan. the dem. candidate that ran in district 33 in 2012 I think, prolly wouldn’t see your humor. people put their lives and reputations and money into running and when the state districts are rigged against them, i’d say the stink lies clearly on your party. I know you are all about being judged as an individual and all, and not on your party. stinks doesn’t it. fairness. voting restrictions and obstructions. neutering the voting rights act. you and your party are responsible for that. then you get pissy when we speak up. awww

    how about America’s Mailbox or however, the ex-Chicago cop and loyal republican works a dealieo where some loosey-goosey residence language gets passed so his business model flies in lil’ ole’ red-neck SD where all the votes he manages mail for, gets dumped into a democratic district? what the hell? by accident, maybe??

  35. custerhank 2016-02-09 20:50

    Follow-up: I did 25 years in the Air Force and another 20 in the federal government. I am also a registered Democrat so I am not in total disagreement with what is going on here. I have a dog on both sides of this fight. I will just hope that, as “Les” says above – we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Other than the obvious discomfort to RV-ers who will have to deal with you suppose there is any economic impact data on how the state benefits?

  36. leslie 2016-02-09 20:57

    I don’t care where you vote or spend your money. of course SD loves the revenue stream. just don’t drop 3000 votes in a district where people don’t really live, effect election outcomes, and act like there isn’t a hidden manipulation of elections going on.

  37. Les 2016-02-09 21:50

    I’m a bit anal when it comes to doing the right thing, leslie. I don’t apreciate Daugaard putting more regressive sales tax on our state in the name of teacher pay any more than I like a gerrymandered voting situation you speak of that could exist.

    When we start breaking down laws and rights to become half right, it doesn’t fly in my book and rebounds of all sorts hit, often with harsh results on those you wish to protect.

    Believe me, I’m not happy with many in my party that blindly follow any more than I’m not happy with those like Mad Albright across the row.

  38. Linda Fleeger 2016-02-11 17:18

    Let me be clear. We know just as many Fulltime RV who are Democrat and Independent as there are Republican
    I don’t use anything in your state but I feed you money
    1. In 9 years I have paid sales tax on over $200,000 dollars worth of vehicles to register them ( roughly $6000)
    2 my annual registration on my vehicles including wheel tax (which to me is a minute amount of money) is over $600 ( x9 years =$5400
    3. Because your schools receive federal money based on census data you are receiving money just because I’m a resident
    4. I support a small business thru the fees I pay for my mail forwarding service
    5 I support a local campground business when I am in the state
    6 I don’t utilize anything in your state that burdens you. I’m not tearing up your roads, I’m not utilizing any public service ( libraries etc)
    So in the end you get money that’s not costing you a thing
    And just so you know many of us don’t get involved in your local politics.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-11 17:42

    So you’re doing us a favor by dodging taxes? Hmm, I’m going to have to think about that.

    But my question about political principle for our guests is this: even if you don’t get involved much i our local politics, do you think your purchase of a mailbox in our state entitles you to vote in our local elections, or even to run for local office and incorporate towns in South Dakota?

  40. Les 2016-02-11 19:23

    There are less costly places to set up if dodging taxes is her main issue.

    I’d like the folks running all this furor over RV’rs in SD to pull the numbers on dollars you will cost our state if they were not here and some proof they actually affect our political climate enough to diminish the rights of voters affected by the law who are not RV’rs.

    Yes, residence qualifies you to vote under state law. I’m not an RV’r but when I spend time in another part of the country I get involved locally and would not stay where they wouldn’t give me the rights of residence if I so chose.

  41. Darin Larson 2016-02-11 20:00

    “I don’t often stay in one place for very long, but when I do I register to vote in South Dakota elections.” –The Most Mobile Man in the World

  42. grudznick 2016-02-11 20:07

    Ms. Fleeger, just so you know most people in the Great State of South Dakota don’t really care where you motor around and appreciate your tax money. Thank you. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  43. grudznick 2016-02-11 20:11

    You know, if I really wanted to effect elections myself, I’d register to vote in New Hampshire, or maybe New York, or New Mexico where my friend Lar votes as a resident. But what person insaner than most would register in South Dakota just to muck with the local school board or county commission elections? Besides myself, of course.

  44. grudznick 2016-02-11 20:20

    (lar, its’ affect, I know but I want you to feel better about editing apostrophe’s. come on, lar, look deeper…Iook out your window…guess who your new neighbor might be…)

  45. larry kurtz 2016-02-11 20:42


  46. grudznick 2016-02-11 20:45


  47. leslie 2016-02-26 21:51

    1. so why did the Sen. pull the bill? does the American mailbox scheme foisted on slumbering SD have some political clout with the gov.? I know it works for SDGOP

    An unrelated question to Sen. Craig: on the enhanced vehicular homicide bill, 2 of 3 factors you use to enhance are beyond the power of an active alcoholic/addict to prevent. 2xs the alcohol/blood limit, and previous DUI convictions. most of these people don’t do this because they are criminals, they do it because we have to drive to survive and because they have an illness that includes craving which is not possible to override.

    so we are setting up these ill people for life-time criminal institutionalism rather than focusing on successful medical intervention.

    you law enforcement/judge/legislator types just continue to repeat the past, blind to science until it bites you where it hurts. we used to imprison the mentally ill. now the nation is recognizing drug crimes and imprisonment don’t mix, but because there is a happy hour at the capitol at the end of the day (and over lunch for some), we still have majority lawmakers punishing illness. the public defenders office in RC has grown from 4 lawyers in 1983 to 17-18 lawyers today…33 years later. Penn Cty population perhaps doubled or less in that time,…I would have to look.

    As we know, most of their work is necessitated by drugs and alcohol. this is just one aspect of the criminal justice system in the state. pretty expensive “non-” solution put on the public so the rest of us can keep drinking.

    just thinking out loud. There needs to be a county or state criminal justice reform official to study and effect massive change to half of the legal system that doesn’t work effectively for all of us. the civil side is another chapter perhaps, more akin to the 99%/1% dilemma.

  48. Ricky Morgan 2016-06-05 09:55

    I think that the good Senator should check he census records. He will find that their are almost more people that are fulltimers in his state than their are people. Just think if your federal school dropped by half and your roads money if all the fulltimers left. We take nothing and give you our taxes and other moneys. I think this is nothing but sour grapes over some bill or something that did not pass because we voted against it. As for me I don’t get involved with local matters unless they effect me. I could care less who is mayor or in congress. I am sure most fulltimers feel the same way and only vote on federal matters as we are not there and should not interfere with local matters. This bill is not the right thing to do as it affects our right to vote. The federal make us take a state to call home if it were up to me I would not claim any state and when my tag expired get it from where ever I wanted to. but that is not the case and we must claim somewhere as home if this was done in every state you would stop over 1 million voters from being able to vote and that would not be right. Shot why not go back to the old way that if you did not own land you could not vote or if you were a women you could not vote . Let’s not go backwards please. I think i will buy some land, subdivide it to 3 x 6 plots put little buildings with beds on them and sell them to rvers and do the mail forwarding for them just so they can vote.

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