How dumb is the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office? So dumb that they can’t explain the legal impacts of a law they are proposing.
On Wednesday I reported on Senate Bill 17, Secretary of State Monae Johnson’s proposal to amend the new voting residency requirement she’s using to disenfranchise RV voters to specify that the 30 days they live in South Dakota to establish their right to vote here must take place within one calendar year of their registration. Reporter Rae Yost quite logically asked Johnson’s deputy Tom Deadrick to explain what effect that change would have on RV voters:
When asked if the proposed SB17 legislation would change voting for full-time traveling residents, Deadrick said in an email, “That is a legal question that has many different legal avenues it could go down and is not a question we can answer” [Rae Yost, “New Voting Bill Appears to Focus on Full-Time RVers,” KELO-TV, 2024.01.04].
Horsehockey. Tom, Monae, if you propose a change in law, you have an obligation to explain what you think that change will do and how it will affect the people you serve. As election officials, you need to be able to tell people whether or not they are eligible to vote under current law and whether or not they will be eligible to vote under the alternative law you are proposing. You need to be able to tell the legislators who will vote on your proposal (perhaps as early as next week!) the effect their vote would have on their constituents. If you can’t explain what your law will do, you either don’t understand the law you’ve proposed or you’re trying to hide what that law will do. In either case, you’ve got no business proposing a change you can’t explain.
I suspect the Secretary of State’s office just doesn’t want to come clean on its real intention, which is to purge more citizens from the voter registry and reduce participation in elections. Legislators, don’t wait for an explanation from Deadrick and Johnson. Make a quick study of precedent, recognize that Johnson’s residency trick is unconstitutional, and hoghouse Senate Bill 17 to reject Johnson’s proposal and repeal the whole 30-day residency requirement.