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Legislature to Discuss Residency Laws at E-Board Meeting

The Legislature’s Executive Board is meeting today and tomorrow. Among the fun items on their agenda is an issue memorandum from the Legislative Research Council on South Dakota’s residency laws.

The only statute defining residency for political purposes is SDCL 12-1-4:

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.

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 [SDCL 12-1-4, last amended 2004].

South Dakota doesn’t impose any minimum residency time to qualify to vote; you could move here today, register at the courthouse, and be eligible to sign petitions and cast votes on the spot. The only restriction on new residents’ voting is the requirement that voters be registered at least fifteen days before the election.

We do impose “durational residency requirements” for other state privileges. Residency for hunting and fishing and to get a South Dakota driver license requires 90 days in state. Residency for in-state tuition requires twelve months. But the issue memo notes that states can’t go hog wild with residency requirements: any “durational residency requirement” must respect the right to interstate travel, federal jurisdiction over interstate commerce, and protection under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. So whatever the Executive Board may be thinking about changing about our residency laws, they’ll need to pay close attention to those protections and the Supreme Court case law surrounding them.


  1. John 2020-11-16

    This is another classic example of a bug looking for windshield. Only folks who do not understand “residency” v domicile, and other concepts, embark on these and similar ‘law making inquiries’. They are not protecting the sovereignty of South Dakotans, they are not protecting the rights of her non-domiciled citizens.

  2. chris 2020-11-16

    While Kristi continues her project to bunch the nation’s flies all here in South Dakota, blue state residents should take advantage of SD’s slack AF motor voter law and register their RV’s here so they can receive mail from a local P.O. Box and yadda yadda yadda, vote Kristi out of office. Plenty of propensity out there.

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