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SB 24: Sec. Barnett Tries Again for Online Voter Registration

Last year, Secretary of State Steve Barnett proposed the very sensible idea of allowing South Dakotans to register to vote online. The bill Barnett requested, 2020 HB 1050, kept things simple, asking the Legislature to authorize the Secretary of State to create such an online voter registration system. I don’t see any record of anyone coming to testify against the idea in committee, but after the House passed HB 1050 41–26, the Republicants on Senate State Affairs realized online registration means more people voting, and we can’t have that, so poof! into the ashcan with that pro-democracy idea on a 7–2 vote.

Secretary of State Barnett has decided to try again. 2021 Senate Bill 24 comes back with the same ask but more detail. The bill, requested by the State Board of Elections, specifies that the online voter registration system would crosscheck applicants’ information with the Department of Public Safety’s driver license database. It would verify the driver license number, last five digits of the Social Security Number, full name, and date of birth. It would apply applicants’ signatures from the DPS database. And it would transmit complete and verified applications to the statewide voter registration file.

Note that SB 24 creates a database with signatures, we move one step closer to having a system that can verify petition signatures submitted online. Secretary Barnett, may we move to amend to finally create that safe and reliable online petitioning system to engage more people in 21st-century democracy?

SB 24 also provides that the online system include a sworn statement and penalty of perjury to hold online applicants accountable for monkeyshines.

Online voter registration is good for voters and good for democracy. More people carry phones than pens, so let’s let them use the tools of this century to register and participate in democracy.


  1. o 2021-01-07 08:52

    Sorry, but on the topic of SD voting law:

    One of the “fraud” claims of the President is that some state (that he lost) had solicited mail ballots. The state asked people if they would like to vote by mail instead of in-person. Their claim is that states should not actively solicit voting — that is a political activity, and as such, those states ought to have their votes thrown out.

    Didn’t SD do that very thing?

    I suppose the amendment Sec. Barnett is asking for will pass the GOP sniff test of election fairness because it will not drive SD from red to blue. Making voting easier is fine if it is white GOP voters being accommodated. Jim Crow is alive and well in the voter registration debate.

  2. Darrell Solberg 2021-01-07 15:21

    Just last night a Republican lady on ABC WORLD NEWS SAID “Democrats fight like hell to get people out to vote, the Republicans fight like hell to keep them from voting”! ISN’T THAT VOTER SUPPRESSION? It is something that is so much a part of the majority party’s playbook in S.D.!!!

  3. Betty 2021-01-07 19:52

    This is interesting. In September of 2020, while renewing my South Dakota drivers license online, I was allowed to register to vote as well. I received paperwork in the mail confirming my voter registration. My husband did the same as well. We both voted during this last election and had no issues. Maybe this article is irrelevant, due to COVID and our state changing things for its citizens when it comes to registering to vote online? Maybe South Dakotans have to be currently licensed in order to register to vote online. One thing for sure is there needs to be more investigation on behalf of Dakota Free Press before they decide stir the pot and get our states Democrats all worked up over misinformation. Bottom line is, Licensed South Dakotan citizens CAN register to vote online in South Dakota, if you choose to renew your driver’s license online.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-08 06:32

    Betty, I’m glad you and your husband were able to register to vote via the driver license portal. However, that system, which drivers access only once every five years, and which costs $28 a pop, isn’t really what we mean by online voter registration. I can’t conduct a voter registration drive using that system. I can’t be on a street corner talking with someone who wants to sign a petition and register that person to vote on the spot. The system Secretary Barnett proposes in Senate Bill 24 really is a major change, a major improvement, in the current voter registration system. Neither Secretary Barnett nor I are providing any misinformation in proposing/advocating such a new system.

  5. Jake 2021-01-08 09:27

    This proposal should become law. Basic TRUTH==the more people that vote, the better off society will be….

  6. cibvet 2021-01-08 10:12

    My mother who no longer can drive, and had the pay the license fee to get an updated ID (license) in order to be accepted at medical facilities. If SD requires ID’s to vote and to be admitted to medical facilities, they should be much cheaper.
    It appears to me that this is just a poll tax on the elderly.

  7. Donald Pay 2021-01-08 10:25

    Poll tax is exactly what it is. They can’t charge if you say you want an ID for voting purposes. If they do charge they can be sued. You can demand they repay your mother for the charges. Do it.

  8. Donald Pay 2021-01-08 10:42

    This is just common sense in this day and age. It’s good customer service and government acting more like a business. Isn’t that what many people want?

    Wisconsin has on-line registration. It’s got a requirement that you enter the Wisconsin driver license number or state ID number. You have to have the address up to date on the license. So, if you have moved and try to re-register, it may not work, as it is not a requirement to up-date the license address. That presents a problem for students and poor folks, who move a lot. So, those folks end up having to re-register in person, providing a lease or utility bill to prove they live where they say they live. So, there are problems, I believe, but it does make it easier for some people. I’m not sure if you can just upload a utility bill, but that would make it easier. A better way for poor folks and students is registration and re-registration at the polls. Wisconsin does this, and it’s great. There is a separate table for registration. Student precincts have multiple tables and lots of registration officials available, but it does slow down the process on election day. This also occurs for early voting.

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