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HB 1126: Tie Secretary of State’s Hands in Pandemic Response, Require Opt-In to Receive Absentee Ballot

In response to valid concerns that crowded polling places could spread coronavirus, many states sensibly mailed absentee ballots to every voter. South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett did like his Minnesota counterpart and at least sent absentee ballot request forms to every voter, which contributed to increased voter turnout.

But all that good sense and increased participation are too much for Representative Drew Dennert (R-3/Aberdeen) and his Apartheid Party. Representative Dennert is sponsoring House Bill 1126, which would prohibit the Secretary of State from mailing an absentee ballot or even an application for an absentee ballot to any voter without a request from the voter. HB 1126 already has 19 Republican co-sponsors.

Wow: if a policy says, “Let’s be safe about coronavirus,” Representative Dennert says, “Let’s get rid of it!” just as he did Saturday when he and fellow Aberdeen legislator Al Novstrup flagrantly violated the Board of Regents’ mask requirement at the first Aberdeen 2021 crackerbarrel on the Northern State University campus:

Rep. Drew Dennert and Sen. Al Novstrup, unmasked in violation of Northern State UNiversity policy, crackerbarrel at Johnson Fine Arts Center, Aberdeen, SD, 2021.01.30. Screen cap from Dakota Broadcasting video.
Rep. Drew Dennert and Sen. Al Novstrup, unmasked in violation of Northern State UNiversity policy, crackerbarrel at Johnson Fine Arts Center, Aberdeen, SD, 2021.01.30. Screen cap from Dakota Broadcasting video.

The Legislature has already re-rejected Secretary Barnett’s proposal to allow voter registration online; now they want HB 1126 to block the sensible policy Barnett used to prevent coronavirus from spreading and from depressing election turnout. One might have to wonder if Barnett will face a nomination challenge at the GOP convention next year from a Republican who’s more on board with the Republicans’ all-out effort to suppress the vote.

7 Comments

  1. Eve Fisher 2021-02-01

    The South Dakota Republican Party is certainly making an impressive effort to become the standard bearer for corruption, covidiocy, and authoritarianism: suppress the vote, deny any measures to protect the public, deny any measures the public attempt to make, deny any information the public attempts to get, and 100% loyalty to a man who is no longer in office – with, of course, no accountability for themselves. Depressing and amazing.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-02-01

    Its simple, the Republicans made the choice to shrink the vote rather than expand their party.

  3. Jenny 2021-02-01

    Republicans really hate democracy. Baby-faced Dennert has become a good little soldier for his Party. He’ll be annointed in the future for some high-up position in the Club.

  4. o 2021-02-01

    I’m not even sure this is about SD. What we did getting out absentee ballots in the last election was called into question as fraud by the MAGAs when other (more non-white resident) states did it. Now I suppose to shut them down (in the more non-white residence states), we need to toe the party line on this to make it all look like a standard practice.

  5. Mike 2021-02-01

    Kristi will need this bill to pass to win reelection. She only won SD by 6000 votes. Many of her elderly supporters have died from covid. And the more people who vote in SD the worse she will do.

    I bet she won’t allow Barnett to mail out request forms when she is up for reelection.

    Now that Barnett has opened this bag up he can’t close it again. Why would he unless it is to protect Kristi?

  6. Al Froiland 2021-02-01

    Barnett’s sending out absentee voting request forms was a great idea. Dennert, what are you afraid of?

  7. Eve Fisher 2021-02-01

    The latest thing, of course, is HB 1194, proposed by Rep. Aaron Aylward of Harrisburg – watch out for this guy! – which wants to basically implement nullification. It “outlines a process of review for any presidential orders that have not been approved and signed into law by the U.S. Congress.” The slippery slope awaits.
    (1) We already settled this matter in the Civil War – the nullifiers lost.
    (2) Gee, I wonder why this never came up during the Trump years?

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