South Dakota

South Dakota has not been a leader in protecting the voting rights of its citizens. This session was no different, as Republican legislators attempted to further attack the voting rights of South Dakotans. 

First, GOP lawmakers tried to restrict the ability of voters to vote by absentee ballot (HB 1178). The bill advanced, but did not pass this legislative session. South Dakota Republicans also tried to restrict a wide array of speech and activities near polling places (SB 7). The bill did not have any legitimate purposes other than making elections less fair and free. 

Republican lawmakers also made it clear that they are hoping to gerrymander South Dakota’s legislative map in an extreme way in 2021. Before the 2011 redistricting, South Dakota established redistricting principles to govern drawing legislative maps, including adhering to one person, one vote; protecting communities of interest; respect for political and geographic boundaries, and protecting minority voting rights. South Dakota GOP lawmakers introduced legislation (HB 1136) attempting to strip away all of those redistricting principles Luckily, the bill did not advance, but South Dakotans must be on the lookout for GOP legislators attempting to strip away their voting rights through extreme partisan gerrymandering.

One modest pro-voter bills were able to pass this session that established election centers (HB 1027). This session was relatively quiet in the voting rights sphere, we hope South Dakota legislators will make pro-voter policies a priority in the next legislative session.