South Dakota’s legislators are doing their part in the nationwide Republican war on voting rights. In their ongoing effort to let fewer voices be heard and thus insulate themselves from the growing majority of Americans who are not white-privilegists, Republicans led by prime sponsor Rep. Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) bring us House Bill 1245, which would cut the amount of time most of us have to cast our ballots by 35%.
Currently, SDCL 12-19-1.2 gives all South Dakota registered voters 46 days prior to the election to cast their ballots. HB 1245 would cut that early-voting time down to 30 days, except for citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act— members of the military and their family members and U.S. citizens living outside the U.S.
HB 1245 is less than half as radical as the Republicans’ 2019 effort to slash early-voting time to 14 days, but the good arguments that killed that 2019 bill remain valid against this new attack on voting rights. No one is harmed by early voting. No one is forced to vote early; citizens who want to wait until Election Day, just in case they want more time to gather information about the candidates and the issues, remain free to do so. In 2020, early voting proved a robust tool for sustaining democracy and expanding civic participation amidst a pandemic, without producing any comparable surge in voting fraud in South Dakota or anywhere else in the United States.
Our early-voting system is working. It does no damage to democracy. There is no reason to impose limitations on this particular method of exercising our rights. Conservatives cannot make a logical, evidenced case for limiting the ability of citizens to vote. The only defense they have for House Bill 1245 is the defense they dare not utter: they don’t like it when lots of people vote, so they want to reduce our opportunity to participate in our elections.
How else can Republicans win?
If South Dakota’s legislators spent as much time working for the citizens of the state rather than working against them, we might be able to convince more of our children stick around help drag the previous generations into the 21st century.
Voter suppression attempts will continue until the inbred 1 party state is balanced with sensible people who are able to listen, learn, know then act. The inbred party acts selfishly as they are unable to know any better. These one sided self serving legislation has and will continue to costs the state economically. It’s already caused the demeaning of the controlling party leadership. Gerrymandering, restricting voter registration, limit number of early voting dates, voter identification, etc. are directed to give certain people in the state an advantage to keep the state 1 party. November 2022 is coming fast.
Who’s making a big chart with all the legislators’ votes on voter suppression and other citizen rights suppression? There are so many such bills this year. There should be some sort of rating on this for the benefit of the public, because most people can’t be following all this legislative action. Some non-partisan group could do this helpful thing.