Senate State Affairs committee amends SB 24, denying initial online voter registration

KELOLAND.com Original
KELO Voters General

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota will remain in the minority when it comes to online voter registration. 

During the Senate State Affairs committee Friday morning, SB 24 which would “provide for voter registration through an online voter registration system provided by the Office of the Secretary of State” was amended to remove allowing initial voter registration to happen online. 

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Jim Bolin (R-Canton) after the committee heard numerous proponent testimony including from South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett, numerous South Dakota tribes and AARP. 

There was no opponent testimony against SB 24. 

After the amendment was proposed, Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission) said the amendment “guts this bill.”  

Sen Bolin’s amendment passed the committee 6-3, with Sen. Bolin, Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown), Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City), Sen. Casey Crabtree (R-Madison), Sen. Bolin (R, Sen. Mike Diedrich (R-Rapid City) and Sen. Gary Cammack (R-Union Center).

Voting against the amendment were Sen. Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland), Sen. Michael Rohl (R-Aberdeen) and Sen. Heinert. 

After the amendment passed, the bill was sent to the Senate floor by an 8-1 vote, with Sen. Heinert voting no. 

On Friday afternoon, Barnett told KELOLAND News the amended version of SB 24 was “a step in the right direction.” He said he will continue to support the amended version of SB 24 as it moves to the Senate floor, adding his goal all along was to offer and provide a service for South Dakotans that isn’t currently offered.

When asked if he was disappointed with the amendment, Barnett said he believed there were enough safeguards in place to allow for new voters to register online. He also pointed out there was no opposition testimony to SB 24 and there’s plenty of examples of secure online resources like banking, driver’s license renewals.

South Dakota would have been the 42nd state in the country to allow voters the ability to register to vote online if passed and signed into law. 

Both Barnett and senators cited 20% of current South Dakota voter registrations have incorrect addresses. SB 24, as amended, would still allow people already registered to update registrations.  

“A lot of people don’t think about updating their voting registration address,” Barnett told KELOLAND News Thursday. “This would give voters a tool to update their addresses.”

KELOLAND News has reached out to Sen. Bolin for reaction on the amendment of SB 24. We will add his responses to this story.

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