Secretary of State Steve Barnett has struggled to get his own party to support online voter registration. 42 states and the District of Columbia offer online voter registration, but not South Dakota, because, you know, making it easier for people to participate in democracy is dangerous to the health of Republicans. Even when Senate State Affairs scaled last year’s bill back to exclude new registrations and simply allow registered voters to update their information online, this minor modernization and convenience for voters stalled in House State Affairs.
Secretary Barnett and the State Board of Elections are staying small this year, offering just one bill, Senate Bill 69, to allow voters to update existing registrations online but not make new registrations. SB elaborates on last year’s proposal, adding phone number and email to the information voters may update through the secure electronic system that the Secretary of State will build. SB 69 also specifies the security protocols the update system must follow: the SOS must connect the voter system to the driver license database to verify driver license or ID card number, last five SSN digits, full name, date of birth, and signature. (If you’ve used any web-based signature-collecting system, you’d better look for an iPad and Pencil, because if you use a non-touch laptop or desktop, your mouse penmanship will never match your physical driver license signature!)
This tiny step toward more convenience for voters to keep their registration data current is the only bill in the hopper so far dealing with voting. But on the bright side, SB 69 is the only bill in the hopper so far dealing with voting; we’re 138 bills in, and so far, no Republicans have filed bills to make voting harder.
Related Reading: A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that while the technical issues of voting that excite election nerds like Secretary Barnett and myself don’t rouse as much enthusiasm from the general public, the essential reforms in the Democratic Freedom to Vote Act awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, including making Election Day a federal holiday, win majority support:
- Expanding access to early voting: 65% support, 23% oppose
- Prohibiting partisan gerrymandering: 64% support, 19% oppose
- Making it illegal to prevent someone from registering to vote: 62% support, 24% oppose
- Making Election Day a federal holiday: 61% support, 26% oppose
- Expanding same-day voter registration: 56% support, 30% oppose
- Expanding access to voting by mail: 55% support, 35% oppose
- Allowing Americans with prior criminal convictions to vote: 54% support, 32% oppose
- Expanding automatic voter registration: 51% support, 33% oppose [Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels, “Our Exclusive New Poll on Voting Rights,” Politico: Playbook, 2022.01.12].
An online system to update our voter registration is nice, but Americans want bigger reforms that help all citizens participate in our democratic system of government. Think bigger, Secretary Barnett, and work on your fellow Republicans to do the same!