Since Secretary of State Jason Gant can't do his job right, the American Civil Liberties Union and League of Women Voters are working to fill his gaps. After advocating a new law this year to disenfranchise convicted felons who get probation instead of jail time, he failed to update the official state webpage on this topic until September 6, two months after the law took effect. He still hasn't updated the official voter registration form to reflect the new restriction.
The South Dakota ACLU is thus touring the state to get out the word. As part of the national "Let Me Vote" campaign, the ACLU-SD will hold voter registration events in Rapid City, Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, and Fort Thompson. They are focusing on Indian country because, frankly, South Dakota's efforts to discriminate against voters have focused on Indian country.
Here's the ACLU's clear explanation of the new rules for voting rights for folks who've crossed the law:
VOTING WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD
If you were convicted of a felony, there are new rules for voting.
- You CAN vote if you have finished your sentence.
- You CAN vote if you were sentenced to probation before July 1, 2012.
- You CANNOT vote if you were sentenced to probation on or after July 1, 2012. (This is a new rule.)
- You CANNOT vote if you are on parole.
- You CANNOT vote if you are in prison.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or you are awaiting trial, you CAN vote. If you are in jail, you have to vote by absentee ballot.
[American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, voting rights information card, September 2012]
The ACLU-SD will hand out and explain these materials on voting rights and registration in South Dakota. They'll also give free dinner! The League of Women Voters will handle registering any interested voters. Here's when and where:
- Rapid City: September 24, 6:00pm
Mother Butler Center
220 Wright Street
- Pine Ridge: September 25, 6:00pm
Prairie Winds Casino
- Eagle Butte: September 26, 6:00pm
Community Landmark Hall
- Fort Thompson: September 27, 6:00pm
Lode Star Casino
1003 SD Highway 47