The South Dakota Board of Elections meets tomorrow in by conference call. In addition to discussing where they’ll force us to write Jon Hansen’s redundant circulator ID numbers on our ballot question petitions, the board will consider a few changes to election law proposed by our Secretary of State:
First, the SOS would add one line to SDCL 12-4-2: “Eligible persons pursuant to §12-4-1 with a valid driver license or non-driver identification card issued by the State of South Dakota may register to vote through the system provided by the Office of the Secretary of State.” Right now, one can walk into the Secretary of State’s office to register to vote; adding a “system” appears to pen the door for online voter registration, which would be absolutely awesome for us petitioners! Instead of toting around yet another set of papers, having aspiring voters fill them out, and then trucking them to the courthouse, petition circulators could invite non-registered South Dakotans to register instantly and securely online. Once those registrants have hit “Submit” on their phones, they could then put their new voter registrations to use immediately by signing our ballot question petitions on the spot. That’s doubly good for democracy!
Second, the SOS would like to protect a little more of voters’ personal information. Current law [SDCL 12-4-9] excludes registered voters’ day and month of birth from the master registration file that any candidate, ballot question committee, or other interested person may purchase. The SOS proposes to hide voters’ year of birth as well. The less information the state hands out to people who plan to call and knock on my door, the better! (Now if we could just get the Secretary to apply that thinking to that dratted circulator registry….)
Third, the SOS notices that SDCL 12-6-51.1 refers to “runoff” elections while SDCL 12-12-1 still refers to a “secondary” election. The SOS proposes to strike “secondary” in the latter statute and replace with “runoff.” O.K.
Finally, the Secretary seeks to write into statute a rule it has informally enforced in previous elections: the Pro/Con statements in the ballot question pamphlet (one of my favorite government documents!) provided by SDCL 12-13-23 must be no more than 300 words long. That change means no effective change in practice, so I won’t hackle up there… but don’t you try taking away the Pro-Con statements!
The latter change are small; the biggest deal is the potential for online voter registration statewide. I look forward to learning more about how we’d keep such a system secure, what information voters would have to submit online, and how fast the system could authorize a citizen to vote. A reliable and efficient voter registration system could help open the door for same-day registration, which would be super!