SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s statewide primary elections are scheduled for June 7th and the general election is set for November 8th. With the recent focus on voting rights legislation we thought we would take a closer look at South Dakota’s voting laws.
In South Dakota the threshold to vote is pretty simple, you must be 18, a U.S. citizen residing in South Dakota, you can’t be a felon or be judged mentally incompetent. About the only challenge to voting in South Dakota, besides distance in some parts of the state, is the voter I.D. law.
According to the national conference of state legislatures, 35 states require some form of ID.
“Make sure we can identify who the voters are and that they are qualified to vote and South Dakota has a number of provisions like that but they are fairly flexible,” said USD Political Science Professor Michael Card
Minnehaha County Auditor Ben Kyte agrees. While some states limit the type of ID that can be used, South Dakota’s voting ID laws allow for many options, from a driver’s license to a school ID to a tribal ID card.
“If you don’t have the ID with you we do ask you to sign an affidavit that basically says I am who I say I am. And we find your name on the voting poll book, and so we would record you as voted, so people still have the option to vote we try not to disenfranchise anybody,” said Kyte.
South Dakota’s voting flexibility can also be found in the absentee voting process.
“We have early voting and so if you can’t get to your county auditors office between 8 and 5 on a Monday through Friday you will be able to cast your ballot, unfortunately, if you are not able to get there it makes it more difficult. But you can request an absentee ballot to be delivered to you by mail,” said Professor Card.
Traditionally about 20% of voters cast an absentee ballot. In the last election with COVID looming, it jumped to between 40 and 50%.
Kyte says he wants to make sure anyone who is registered to vote has that opportunity.
“We are going to try to make it as accessible as possible so we can have a fair and honest election,” said Kyte.
During the last general election, in November of 2020, South Dakota had a high voter turnout of almost 74%.