South Dakota Elections

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Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

For more information, visit the South Dakota Secretary of State website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Voting Rights

News

Confusion over South Carolina ID law could keep voters away
02/12/16 |
Publication Date: 
Friday, February 12, 2016 - 15:45
Excerpt: 

According to the state’s numbers, 178,000 South Carolinians, disproportionately non-whites, don’t have any of the forms of photo ID that the law calls for. Crucially, people are in fact allowed to vote even without a photo ID, as long as they sign an affidavit stating why they don’t have one. But those working to mobilize voters say which documents are and aren’t required is not well understood.

“I think people are confused,” said Jan Leonard, an official with the Charleston County Democratic Party....Leonard and others say the state has helped stoke that confusion through its public education campaign about the law. ...

Some of the confusion stems from the ID law’s passage through the courts....Ultimately, a three-judge federal panel upheld the law in 2012, but the judges made clear that the state had to accept almost any “reasonable impediment” that voters offered as a reason why they didn’t have ID.

North Carolina DMV says it messed up by rejecting 86-year-old woman
02/12/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 12:15
Excerpt: 

Amy Lee Knisley, Bowser’s daughter-in-law [, said] “She’s been voting and getting driver’s licenses, and traveling in the Caribbean and Mexico, all those 60 odd years. And the state of North Carolina decides none of that is good enough for us.” ...

Knisley, a faculty member at Warren Wilson College, worries about other women who may have difficulty proving that they changed their names when they married long ago. ...

If you don’t have a court order, marriage certificate or divorce decree to establish that you changed your name in the past, you can sign a DMV form DL-101 – an affidavit in which you affirm that you have legally changed your name – at the DMV office. ...

“We’ve not heard of [the opportunity to provide a sworn statement about name changes] before,” [Irving Joyner, a Durham lawyer for the NAACP] said. “This mix of mismatched names is a common problem for Latinos. We don’t know how many people are impacted by this problem, but obviously this is a problem.”

Joyner said he and other attorneys plan to look deeper into the Bowser case. He said he has represented ID applicants over the past few years who were never offered the option of an affidavit.

“It would appear – and we’re looking into it – that this was a resolution that was tailor-made for this one participant,” Joyner said. “It certainly smells like it’s something that’s not available to all.” 

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

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Helpful Election Information

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

For more information, visit the South Dakota Secretary of State website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

When You Can Vote

Polling Place Hours

7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Election Day

South Dakota does not have Early Voting.  Voters may submit an absentee ballot by mail or in-person before the election.  You may vote in-person absentee starting 46 days before the election and up until 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election.  If you submit an absentee ballot by mail, the South Dakota County Election Official must receive your application by 5:00 p.m. the day before the election. 

Visit the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal to look up your polling place location.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Registration Deadlines

Voters must ensure their registration form is to be received by the county auditor in the voter’s county of residence 15 days before the upcoming election in order to vote in that election.  Click here for a list of county auditors’ offices.

How to Check if You Are Registered

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Visit the South Dakota Secretary of State's Voter Registration Lookup webpage.

How to Register

To register to vote, print and complete the Voter Registration Form and send it to your County Auditor.  Your County Auditor must receive your Voter Registration Form at least 15 days before an election.

You may also register in person at a:

  • County Auditor’s office;
  • City Finance Office;
  • Driver’s License Station;
  • Public Assistance Agencies providing food stamps, TANF, or WIC;
  • Department of Human Services Offices; and
  • Military Recruitment Offices.

Registration Eligibility

In order to register to vote in South Dakota, you MUST:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen;
  • Be a resident of South Dakota;
  • Be at least 18 years of age on or before the election;
  • Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction which included imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary system; and
  • Not be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.

Identification Required for Registration

Any person registering to vote shall provide his or her South Dakota driver license number on the voter registration form.  If a person does not have a South Dakota driver license, the person shall provide the last four digits of his or her Social Security Number on the voter registration form.  If a person does not have a South Dakota driver's license or Social Security Number, the person may only register at the county auditor's office and shall sign a sworn statement verifying the fact that he or she has neither a South Dakota driver license nor Social Security Number.  Click here for a list of county auditors’ offices.

If You Want to Vote Early

South Dakota does not have early voting.  You may cast an absentee ballot in person or by mail.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Voters in South Dakota may submit an absentee ballot in person or by mail.

In-Person

A registered voter may go to the person in charge of the election for an absentee ballot starting 46 days before the election up to 5:00 pm on the day before Election Day.  If you choose to vote in-person absentee, you will need to bring photo identification.

By Mail

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot (no-excuse required).  Absentee ballots are available for the general election six weeks prior to the election.  To vote absentee, a voter must complete an absentee ballot application and return it by mail or in person to the county auditor.  Click here for a list of county auditors’ offices.  The application deadline is 5:00 pm the day before  Election Day.  The voter's signature on the application must be notarized or the voter must submit a copy of a valid photo ID with the completed application.

Completed absentee ballots may be returned by mail or in person to the person in charge of the election (not to the voter’s polling place).  The ballot must be received by the person in charge of the election in time to transmit it to the voter’s precinct polling place prior to the closing of the polls at 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.  

In the event of confinement because of sickness or disability, a qualified voter may request an absentee ballot in writing, naming an authorized messenger who will deliver the ballot to the voter and return it to the county election official.  An application for a ballot by authorized messenger must be received by the person in charge of the election before 3:00 p.m. the day of the election.

Identification Requirements to Register to Vote

Any person registering to vote shall provide his or her South Dakota driver license number on the voter registration form.  If a person does not have a South Dakota driver license, the person shall provide the last four digits of his or her social security number on the voter registration form.  If a person does not have a South Dakota driver's license or social security number, the person may only register at the county auditor's office and shall sign a sworn statement verifying the fact that he or she has neither a South Dakota driver license nor social security number.  Click here for a list of county auditors’ offices.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Voters are required to provide a valid form of identification before voting.  The personal identification that may be presented shall be either:

  • A South Dakota driver's license or non-driver identification card;
  • A passport or other picture  identification card, issued by the United States government;
  • A tribal photo identification card; or
  • A current student photo identification card, issued by a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, including a university, college, or technical school, located within the State of South Dakota.

A member of the precinct election board shall verify that the picture on the personal identification presented by the voter matches such person and that the name on the personal identification appears on the voter registration list.  If the member cannot determine from the personal identification presented that the person making an application for ballots is the person listed on the voter registration list, the member may consider other forms of identification, personal knowledge and an explanation from the person making an application for ballots to match that person's name to a name on the registration list.  If identity cannot be proven to the satisfaction of the member of the precinct election board or if the person making an application for ballots is challenged on the basis of identity by a member or a poll watcher, the person may vote a provisional ballot.

If a voter is not able to present a form of personal identification, the voter may complete an affidavit (in a form provided by the Board of Elections) in lieu of the personal identification.

If You Have Moved Within Your State

Persons who have moved to a new precinct, regardless of county, and have not yet registered in their new precinct may vote in their old precinct.  You will need to update your voter registration information if you move. 

Military

If you are a military member, you must submit a signed Absentee Ballot Application.  Send your completed application to your local election official.  Once you have submitted your application, you may complete the absentee voting process on the Military and Overseas Citizens Web Portal.  The deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is 5:00 p.m. on November 3, 2014.

Overseas

If you are overseas and cannot vote at your polling place on Election Day, you can request an absentee ballot.  You can apply by submitting your completed absentee ballot application to your County Election Official.  You can also receive an absentee ballot via email by contacting your County Election Official or through the Voter Information Portal.  Your ballot must be returned to your polling place before the polls close on Election Day.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) South South Dakota-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA.  Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP's South Dakota-specific page.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 7:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used  to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's South Dakota-specific FWAB page.

Felony Convictions On or After July 1, 2012

A person convicted of a felony in federal or state court on or after July 1, 2012, loses the right to vote.  Upon completion of his or her entire sentence,, including incarceration, probation, and parole, the person must re-register to vote in order to participate in future elections.  A person who receives a suspended sentence does not lose the right to vote.

Felony Convictions On or Before June 30, 2012

Generally, a person  convicted of a felony in state or federal court  on or before June 30, 2012 lose the right to vote during the term of imprisonment, including any supervised release.  Those sentenced to probation, or to pay a fine or restitution, retain the right to vote. For more information, visit the felony convictions section of the Secretary of State’s website.

FAQ

Top Issues to Field **not yet updated sinice 2014**

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the South Dakota Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights