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Pollema Complains About Voter Suppression on June 7? Blame Pollema’s Own Voters and Party

Last month, Jessica Pollema went from election liar to election loser, failing to unseat Lincoln County Auditor Sheri Lund by 925 votes. That’s about 15% of the Republican primary votes cast in that Lincoln County race.

Pollema went to Pierre yesterday to cry some more about ballot drop boxes and to allege, with a faint hint of sour grapes and a strong strain of Trumpist illogic, that poll workers suppressed votes:

She also called upon Secretary of State Steve Barnett to do a public service announcement telling voters to check their registration so they can change if necessary before they vote.

South Dakota law allows people age 18 and older to register to vote or change their registration when they receive or update a driver’s license. Kea Warne, director for the elections division in the secretary of state office, told lawmakers Wednesday that new voters are automatically placed in the independent/no-party category if they don’t choose a party affiliation when they register. Warne said registered voters meanwhile automatically keep their previous affiliation when they renew their licenses if they don’t also mark a different affiliation.

“This is voter suppression,” Pollema alleged Wednesday when she spoke after Warne. Pollema listed other states where she said this had happened. “In my opinion, this is proof our voter rolls are hacked,” Pollema said. “We need to have this examined.”

Pollema said she heard reports “all day long” that Republicans were turned away from voting on primary day. Republicans confine their primaries in South Dakota to only Republicans, while Democrats allow independents/NPA to participate in theirs. South Dakota doesn’t allow people to change their party registrations on election day. “People were turned away in tears. This happened all over the place,” Pollema said. “So this is a huge issue” [Bob Mercer, “SD’s June 7 Primaries Now Being Questioned,” KELO-TV, updated 2022.07.21].

It takes a lot of work to refute Trumpist nonsense, not because it’s hard to debunk, but because Trumpists like Pollema say so much that is wrong.

  1. The people Pollema says were turned away may think they are Republicans, but the law and the Republican Party rules say that the only people who could vote in the Lund/Pollema primary contest and other primary races are people who’ve actually registered as Republicans.
  2. The voters talking to Pollema about their alleged suppression probably talked to her and her radical fringe group before the election. Maybe Pollema should have spent a little less time whipping up their baseless fears of election fraud and a little more time reminding them that they needed to register Republican to vote for her and her fellow radicals on June 7.
  3. The state is not engaging in voter suppression when it receives a voter registration application, sees the voter indicated no party preference, and thus assigns that voter to the independent/no-party category. Those voters can cast ballots just like voters who choose a party affiliation. The “voter suppression”, if we dare call it that, is done by the Republican Party leaders who close their primary to any voter not registered as a Republican.
  4. The fact that South Dakota does not assign a party affiliation to voters who do not choose a party affiliation is not proof that the voter rolls are hacked. Accurately recording voters’ stated preference or an absence thereof demonstrates the opposite.
  5. I’ve experienced a similar phenomenon in other situations: websites or databases appear not to be working the way they should (or the way certain users want them to), and users leap to the conclusion that someone is hacking the system. 99 times out of 100, it’s not hacking; it’s tech failure or user error. A server crashed, a squirrel chewed a wire, a commenter had a typo in his email address, or, in the situation where Pollema is crying Hackers!, some Steve Bannon listener forgot to fill in “Republican” on her registration form and thinks she’s entitled to do whatever she wants on election day regardless of the rule of law. It’s fun to blame hackers and the Deep State and other dark unnamed malefactors, but first, check your own work.
  6. If there is an substance to Pollema’s complaint—if anyone showed up to vote on June 7 and was turned away because the well-kept and easily checkable voter rolls showed no record or the wrong party affiliation for the ballot the voter wanted to cast—the solution is not cry conspiracy. The solution is to allow people to register and change party affiliation at the polls. 21 states and the District of Columbia allow same-day voter registration, but Pollema and her fellow Republicans generally oppose such a simple, voter-friendly innovation.

Look in the mirror, Jessica: as usual, when Republicans complain about problems with voting, the problem lies with the complainers themselves. Join us Democrats in opening your primary to independents and supporting same-day voter registration. And don’t forget to educate your voters not just about conspiracy theories but about actual election law.


  1. Vi Kingman 2022-07-21 12:47

    are all of these people that f^*king stupid? Incredible

  2. Eve Fisher 2022-07-21 13:17

    It’s not so much that they’re all that stupid – although many of them are – it’s that they all don’t feel comfortable without packing a serious grievance. And often a gun.

  3. Donald Pay 2022-07-21 13:30

    Well, yeah, there are stupid people, but stupid people also use credit and debit cards and on-line banking. Why can’t voting be made customer friendly? If you want to run government like a business, as Republicans always say they want, they should be making voting easy, not hard.

    I’m not sure why you need to register for a party. In Wisconsin there is no party registration. We’ll be mailing in our primary ballot in the next week or two. It will list all the candidates in every race that has a contested party primary. We can decide which party we vote in by filling in a bubble. Then we simply fill in our choices in the party we decide to vote in. If you fill in the Republican bubble, any vote you take on the Democratic side invalidates your ballot. You do have to stick to the party you select. My own view is parties should be abolished, but I doubt that will ever happen.

    And you should be able to register at the polls. We can do that in Wisconsin. It’s very popular with young voters, who tend to move around a lot.

  4. Richard Schriever 2022-07-21 16:58

    Parties shouldn’t be abolished – first amendment and all that. However, requiring someone to be registered as a member of a party to cast a vote for candidates in any party primary or restricting primary contests to being within a single party should be. Make all primaries a ranked choice process – with every candidate from every party included. Use the primary as a way to winnow the final election process down to the top 2 candidates.

  5. leslie 2022-07-21 17:02

    Pollema should have spent a little less time whipping up baseless fears of election fraud.

    TODAY REAL leadership from Republican and Democratic Representatives “Mr. Kinzinger (R) and I, who are both veterans leading this committee, I think, as veterans of the military, understand what action looks like in a time of crisis,” Elaine Luria (D) told CNN last weekend. She added of Trump’s actions: “I look at it as a dereliction of duty. He didn’t act. He had a duty to act.”

    Their commission hearing moves forward despite Trump’s Secret Service’s destruction of subpoenaed phone/text records during the 187 minutes on Jan 6, bringing accountability from the GOP/Trump disaster.

    It is as if Thune and boy toy Mitch McConnell inspired the entire GOP and its base to lie and violate the constitution, when they singlehandedly put Trump in position to pack SCOTUS.

  6. Mark Anderson 2022-07-21 17:59

    The reality is if your party gets say 40 percent of the vote, it should have 40 percent of the power. Winner take all is a loser in the long run. Just look at South Dakota.
    Now this Pollema, what can one say other than a sore loser, a real sore loser.

  7. Dicta 2022-07-21 20:31

    This will never stop now. Trump allies who lose will claim supression, fake votes, etc. and the consituents will line up to eat the garbage. They literally cannot fathom people with different views.

  8. Jeff Barth 2022-07-21 20:44

    I’ve lost several elections where they allowed Republicans to vote.
    Is that fair??

  9. John 2022-07-21 21:57

    Dicta, right on.
    This essay from a teacher about a modern twist of parents certainly has a basis to apply to the whiny republican losers like trump, noem, and Pollema.
    “Dialogue is fruitless. Compromise is a non-option. Jackhammer [republicans] aren’t just interested in getting there way; they need anyone who gets in their way to get obliterated.”

  10. grudznick 2022-07-21 22:00

    You’d have won, Mr. Barth, if not for the breathing-hard-while-walking-downhill litter-bug commercial.

  11. scott 2022-07-22 08:43

    Jessica Pollema lost by 925 votes. That was a very well orchestrated plan by Sheri Lund to steal the election from poor Jessica.

  12. Lora Hubbel 2022-09-05 18:02

    Ahhh…Cory you failed this time. You are ususally such a good researcher….but you didn’t dig deep into this one at all….i am so disappointed in you.

  13. grudznick 2022-09-05 20:01

    Ms. Hubbel, please enlighten young Mr. H and the rest of us as well. grudzick is your biggest fan.

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