Senate State Affairs Committee amends SB 24, denying initial online voter registration

PIERRE, SD (KELO) – South Dakota will remain in the minority when it comes to online voter registration.

During the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday morning, SB 24 which “would provide voter registration through an online voter registration system provided by the Office of the Secretary of State” was amended to remove the authorization for initial online voter registration.

The amendment was moved by Senator Jim Bolin (R-Canton) after the committee heard extensive testimony from supporters, including South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett, many tribes in South Dakota and of the AARP.

There was no opponent testimony against SB 24.

After the amendment was moved, Senator Troy Heinert (D-Mission) said the amendment “destroys this bill”.

Senator Bolin’s amendment was adopted by Committee 6-3, with Senator Bolin, Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown), Senator Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City), Senator Casey Crabtree (R-Madison ), Senator Bolin (R, Senator Mike Diedrich (R-Rapid City) and Senator Gary Cammack (R-Union Center).

Senator Kyle Schoenfish (Scotland), Senator Michael Rohl (R-Aberdeen) and Senator Heinert voted against the amendment.

After the amendment was adopted, the bill was sent to the Senate by 8 votes to 1, with Senator Heinert voting no.

On Friday afternoon, Barnett told KELOLAND News that the amended version of SB 24 was “a step in the right direction”. He said he would continue to support the amended version of SB 24 as it moves through the Senate, adding that his goal is to offer and provide a service to South Dakotas that is not currently offered.

When asked if he was disappointed with the amendment, Barnett said he believed there were enough safeguards in place to allow new voters to register online. He also pointed out that there was no evidence of opposition to SB 24 and that there are many examples of secure online resources such as banking, driver’s license renewals.

South Dakota would have been the 42nd state in the country to allow voters to register to vote online if adopted and proclaimed into law.

Barnett and Senators both cited that 20% of South Dakota’s current voter registrations had incorrect addresses. SB 24, as amended, would still allow those already registered to update registrations.

“A lot of people don’t think about updating their voting registration address,” Barnett told KELOLAND News Thursday. “It would give voters a tool to update their addresses.”

KELOLAND News has reached out to Senator Bolin for a reaction on the SB 24 amendment. We will add his responses to this story.

Norman D. Briggs