With a zeal matched only by Donald Trump’s heedless byt unifying policy principle of erasing the legacy of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has scrubbed another of Jason Gant’s marks from South Dakota’s election system. The Vote605 app, introduced by Krebs’s bumbling predecessor in 2014, no longer functions.
Vote605 was a phone version of the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal, which allows us to look up voters one at a time by name and either birthdate or ZIP code. The system tells voters what party they are registered with, directs them to where and when they next vote, and provides sample ballots in PDF format.
As a petition circulator and campaigner, I found the Vote605 app useful for letting interested citizens know if they are registered to vote (and when that came up snake eyes, inviting them to register on the spot) and helping voters figure out which district the Legislature has gerrymandered them into. But for the last month or so, the app has failed to connect, and I couldn’t find an update online. Perhaps signaling the non-essentiality of this app, I didn’t get around to firing off a query to the Secretary of State’s office until last weekend, during the Brown County Fair, when more than a few visitors to the Democratic booth eagerly sought to learn which tired old Republicans they get to kick out of the Legislature this year.
The somewhat redoubtable and mostly undoubtable deputy SOS Kea Warne got back to me and said the state dropped Vote605 at the end of June. Warne says the state was paying $20,000 for a two-year contract to maintain the app. (That money came from the federal Help America Vote Act grant.) Warne reports fewer than 1,200 people used the app over the last two years, and we rare 0.14% of South Dakotans can get the same functionality (including ZIP code search, which I deeply appreciate so I don’t have to ask people’s birthdates) from the browser-based Voter Information Portal.
In 2015, Secretary Krebs shuttered her predecessor’s underused and poorly accounted iOASIS system for overseas military absentee voting. The whole point of Krebs’s candidacy for Secretary of State in 2014 was to oust the failing Jason Gant, and throughout her tenure, she has touted her efforts to repair the disarray in which Gant left our chief election office. The cancellation of the apparently redundant Vote605 app is one more instance of Secretary Krebs’s effort to wipe Jason Gant’s legacy from the election books.