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SB 102 Protects Safety and Voting Rights of Abused Women

In one of his better ideas, Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) brought Senate Bill 102, which protects the voting rights of victims of stalking and domestic abuse.

During testimony on February 4 before Senate Judiciary, Schoenbeck said that victims of domestic abuse and trafficking in shelters wanted to register to vote but were afraid to because their addresses would go into the public voter registration database. Under current law, we can punch in the name and date of birth or ZIP code of any voter and pull up that voter’s residence address on the Secretary of State’s online database. One can also buy the full voter registration list for a legislative district for $100, for a county for $15 to $250, or for the whole state for $2,500.

The South Dakota Network Against Family Violence consulted with the Secretary of State and learned that various states have adopted measures to allow people with concerns about their safety to register to vote while keeping their address out of the public eye. Secretary of State Steve Barnett said 43 states and the District of Columbia have some provision for protecting voter residency information.

In response to these concerns, SB 102 creates a “Secured Active” designation that keeps voters’ personal information out of the public eye. People registering to vote still have to provide their addresses, but applicants can secure that information by providing a sworn statement to the Secretary of State attesting that they have an active protection order against a domestic abuser or stalker or that they live in a domestic abuse shelter (the latter attestation must include a signature from an official at the shelter). If the SOS finds that info checks out, applicants get Secured Active status for five years.

Nobody in committee or in either chamber voted against Senate Bill 102, not even Tom Pischke. Governor Kristi Noem signed it on February 25.

Contrary to more typical Republican behavior, Senate Bill 102 honors women and voting rights. Well done, Senator Schoenbeck.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-03-10 09:32

    Before patting people on the back for this change, let’s understand that 43 states already have this protection for those who have been abused. South Dakota is behind in offering this protection. There are other measures that should be considered. Expanding the ways in which a person can register to vote and to cast a ballot allows an abused person to select a means of registering to vote and of voting that best protects that person. For example, an abused person may prefer to vote by mail, rather than be potentially stalked at a polling place. Unfortunately, Republican legislators across the country are filing and passing bills that cut against protections for abused persons. This link provides other reforms that should be considered:

  2. Bob Newland 2021-03-10 09:55

    So, Schoenbeck tripped up and did something positive.

    I praise my broken wristwatch twice a day.

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-03-10 14:58

    Republicans always want to protect their women.

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