S.D. House seeks online voter-registration

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Secretary of State Office should offer an online system for voter registration, the state House of Representatives decided Thursday.

The 41-26 vote sent HB 1050 to the Senate for further action.

Representative Herman Otten, a Lennox Republican, urged House members to support it. He said South Dakota already has some avenues for online registration, such as for overseas voters and through the state Department of Public Safety driver-license system.

The secretary of state system would start July 1, 2021, if it becomes state law.

Representative Linda Duba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said South Dakota is one of the few states that don’t have general online registration.

“This is convenient. This is the right thing to do,” Duba said.

Representative Isaac Latterell, a Tea Republican, warned there could be security breaches or technology problems. He said there wouldn’t be a paper trail and therefore no assurance that the person registering wasn’t someone else.

“I just don’t think this is a wise move,” Latterell said.

Representative Taffy Howard, a Rapid City Republican, said a young person who wasn’t age 18 could secretly register a parent. But Representative Kelly Sullivan, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said the fraud would be caught at the polling place because a photo ID is required.

Sullivan said the Legislature should encourage election participation. “We need more voters in our state,” she said.

But Representative Thomas Brunner, a Nisland Republican, warned that voter fraud starts with voter registration. “Your signature on paper means something,” he said.

Representative Tina Mulally, a Rapid City Republican, had a different reason to oppose the change. She said it could lead to a push for online voting.

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