Press "Enter" to skip to content

SD Republicans Reject Online Voter Registration: Voting More Dangerous Than Driving

Secretary of State Steve Barnett’s renewed push for online voter registration went nowhere fast last week. Senate State Affairs didn’t just kill Senate Bill 24; they hoghoused it to allow registered voters to submit address changes online but to explicitly forbid online voter registration.

This reversal came after proponent testimony from Secretary Barnett, the AARP, the League of Women Voters, and several regular citizens of the 21st century who recognize the value of making it easier for citizens to participate in democracy. No one came to testify against SB 24. But Republicans declined to act, saying driving an hour to the courthouse is better than rushing progress:

In what appeared to be an argument against the bill in its original form, [Sen. Jim] Bolin [R-16/Canton] said that most South Dakotans do not have to travel that far to their county courthouse.

“I believe the current system works well. We have a substantial number of people registered to vote already in South Dakota… By my calculations the furthest anyone has to travel to get to their county courthouse in South Dakota is about 120 to 130 miles in Meade County.”

…Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) who introduced the original bill to the committee, also voted in favor of the amended version. He said that given the evolution of technology, the day was coming for online voter registration, but it was not today. He did not provide clarity on why he felt it was too early to have online voter registration.

“That train is coming… this may not be the best year to do it because of the election.” Schoenbeck said. State Sen. Casey Crabtree (R-Madison) echoed Schoenbeck’s sentiment [Austin Goss, “SD State Senate Committee Takes up Online Voter Registration,” KSFY, 2021.01.22].

I’m not sure what Senator Schoenbeck thinks we need to wait for. Last year’s election added to the evidence that remote participation in democracy securely promotes voter turnout, if not results that Republicans like. The technology is ready: 40 states and the District of Columbia offer online voter registration. South Dakota establishes the identity and eligibility of drivers renewing their licenses online, and that driver’s license we can get online then becomes central to getting the voter registration card that Lee and Jim think we have to come to town to obtain in person.

But as we well know from their legislative agenda, Republicans think voting is more dangerous than driving.


  1. Buckobear 2021-01-25 10:58

    Hmmmm …… “120 to 130 miles in Meade County.”
    Basic math sez even at (at best) 65 MPH, that’s about 2 hours each way.
    Someday, South Dakota will be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 20th century, eh?

  2. Loren 2021-01-25 11:45

    I think the Kristi administration should consolidate all registration facilities into ONE office located in Bison that will be open from 10:00-10:15 every third Thursday unless that happens to be on an odd numbered day, in which case the office in Martin will be accepting applications at 6:20-6:25 am the following day. Bring 6 forms of ID, a gas bill and your passport. Drivers license photo will not be accepted because no one can ID you from those photos. Which Kristiite can we get to submit this sensible proposal? (insert eye roll)

  3. mike Livingston 2021-01-25 14:40

    Who’s afraid of the big bad vote? Po widdo kissy-poo that’s who. Unless I miss my guess after two more years of the taxpayers funding her trips to fantasy Island they will tire of her.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-01-25 15:01

    Republicans, the few, the proud, but mostly the few.

  5. RST Tribal Member from 57572 2021-01-25 22:37

    I agree voter registration is more dangerous then driving in the eyes of the 1 party governance. Driving gets you somewhere. Too many of the wrong voters gets you kicked out of office. Voter suppression and gerrymandering are critical tools the 1 party governance has and will continue to employ to stay in the majority. The inbreeding of the Republican Party in SD is getting close to having defectives bubble to the surface. In time these defects will interfere with sound governance. Maybe that time is closer then we thought. We had a president who talked a bunch of mindless followers to attack the congressional representation of our democratic government. The president’s action, oh I mean those unprovoked mindless followers actions, ended up paralyzing our Washington boys from holding him accountable and our governor jetting all over the US seeking affirmation. Yep, 2 voter stopping tools and 1 miscalculation of nature stopped SB 24.

  6. Genie 2021-01-26 07:54

    This was the first real no brainer Bill and they kicked it to the curb. They really don’t want more voters to vote so their same people will put them back in office. Kristi is the worst Gov. we have ever had. She became Gov. to use SD for her own agenda. She has spent more time stumping for the ex pres. than doing anything to help the State.

  7. Owen 2021-01-26 09:53

    What Bolin also doesn’t realize is that people work and can’t get to a Courthouse. I live a block from my courthouse but I’ve worked were I couldn’t get to the courthouse.

    What Republicans like Bolin want is voter surpression.

  8. Donald Pay 2021-01-26 22:05

    Here’s the truth: You in South Dakota and we in Wisconsin don’t need that many ciphers in the Legislature running to the state capitol pretending to do the people’s business, when what they are doing is screwing the people and getting paid big bucks to do it. I’d be for abolishing the Legislature, at least the House of Representatives or as it’s called in Wisconsin, The Assembly. Bicameral legislatures are so 18th Century. One House of about 50 people (SD) and 75 Senators (WI) would work fine. I’d also have initiatives and referendum much more prevalent. We don’t have that in Wisconsin, and it would have allowed us to simply refer Act 10, and not have to go through the recall of Scott Walker.

    I’m sort of enamored of the Parliamentary system. You lose checks and balances, but you gain better governance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.