PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Lawyers from both sides want a federal judge to give more time to State of South Dakota officials to respond in a voting-rights case.
Attorneys for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Four Directions, a voting-rights organization, didn’t follow standard practice and failed to file their civil lawsuit against South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
The case was filed September 16. It alleges South Dakota state government has violated several requirements of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, specifically the “motor-voter” provision and agency-based voter registration requirements.
The complaint and summons were served on South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett, head of the state Board of Elections, and on several governor’s appointees: Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill, Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman; and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price.
The joint request for more time was filed last week by Terry Pechota, a Rapid City lawyer representing the tribal governments and Four Directions, and by Grant Flynn, a lawyer from the South Dakota Attorney General Office.
Pechota and Flynn asked that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol give state government three weeks, starting October 26, when the governor and the attorney general received the complaint and summons. As of Monday morning, there wasn’t a record of a decision by the judge in the file.
Flynn had previously filed a stand-alone motion October 21 seeking more time: “South Dakota law requires that in suits ‘against a state officer, employee or agent arising our of his [or her] office, employment or agency, a copy of the summons and complaint shall be mailed, certified mail,…to the attorney general[.]’ SDCL § 15-6-4(d)(6). Here, neither the Governor’s Office nor the Attorney General’s Office has been served with the summons or complaint.”
The lawsuit against state government argues that, “Because of these violations of the NVRA, South Dakota is depriving thousands of tribal members and other citizens of their federally guaranteed opportunities to register to vote and to change their voter registration addresses when these citizens interact with state agencies.”
The lawsuit adds, “Specifically, agencies must provide voter registration services whenever an individual applies, or, renews, or recertifies public assistance benefits, a driver’s license, or a state-issued identification card, as well as when an individual notifies a South Dakota public assistance agency or the Department of Public Safety (‘DPS’) of a change of address.”
Lawyers from the Native American Rights Fund and Demos are also representing the tribal governments and Four Directions. The federal case number is 5:20-cv-05058-LLP.