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Voter Turnout Dismal in South Dakota Primary: Blame Gant?

Secretary of State Jason Gant had predicted that turnout in South Dakota's primary would be a better-than-average 50%. Statewide, turnout was 20.5%, about the same disappointing number in the first primary Gant ran in 2012. The only counties in which turnout broke 50% were Harding and Sully. A majority of counties (40 out of 66) failed to break 30%. The most populous counties and the most Indian counties generally had the lowest turnout:

Why was turnout so dismal? Gant says thunderstorms and frontrunners kept people from the polls. I can't speak to South Dakota hardiness in the face of some wind and rain, but when I grab precipitation totals for the last 24 hours for the 47 counties with reporting stations and compare them to total voter turnout, I get a correlation of –0.036, which means there isn't one.

Comparing the turnout in the Republican and Democratic races chips away at Gant's hypothesis. Most people paying attention knew that the Republicans had two frontrunners coasting to victory: Mike Rounds scored my predicted 55%, with Larry Rhoden and Stace Nelson nowhere close at 18%. Dennis Daugaard beat Lora Hubbel 4 to 1. Republicans managed 31.4% turnout statewide. Democrats had the only interesting statewide race, with none of us sure whether Joe Lowe's early start and passion would beat Susan Wismer's accountantly reserve and party connections. Wismer prevailed 55.5% to Lowe's 44.5%. Turnout among Democrats and the Independents we invite to our primary was 11.0%.

So what's the real reason turnout was low? Perhaps we should consider the obvious: Secretary Gant runs crappy elections and wants less turnout, especially among folks who don't vote Republican. I have received more than one report that election workers were not initially handing Democratic ballots to Independent voters. One commenter tells me his Independent wife was explicitly and repeatedly denied a Dem ballot. Secretary Gant apparently either failed to make sure county officials were training election officials to follow the rules or chose to nudge Independent participation downward by requiring Indies to know they could have a Democratic ballot rather than handing them all ballots to which they had a right to mark as the default action.

Voters also appear to have trouble getting correct information about where to vote. Mark Millage complained to the Minnehaha County Commission yesterday that he received a postcard from Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz showing the wrong legislative district and wrong polling place. The Secretary of State's office also had the wrong data. Millage and his wife went to what they knew was the correct polling place but found they weren't on the rolls. They ended up having to cast provisional ballots.

Minnehaha County Commissioner John Pekas says the Millages' problems are more widespread than they should be:

...Pekas said Millage's story is similar to complaints he has heard about the Secretary of State's office sending post cards to voters that incorrectly listed addresses for polling places.

"There are some grave concerns about the quality of information being disseminated for voting places," Pekas said. He called it a challenge at both state and local levels. "When you go to vote, it should be correct. We need to take a good hard look at that," Pekas said [Peter Harriman, "Voter Expresses Frustration to County Commission," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.06.03].

Secretary Gant responds that the solution is for Minnehaha County is to get on board with his wonderful voting centers, which allow voters to drop by the polling place of their choosing. But networked voting centers don't solve the problem of the auditor and the Secretary placing voters in the wrong district and not handing them the right ballot.

Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth also raises the concern that voting centers have a net negative effect on turnout. Gant's project may give mobile folks more choices as to where to vote. But folks who don't have reliable transportation don't benefit from voting centers when they consolidate precincts and eliminate the nice little polling station they used to have just four blocks from their house.

And don't even get me started on Gant's partisan hackery and petition errors, which have allowed an illegitimate candidate on the ballot and undermined public confidence in the election process as a whole.

Secretary Gant has made explicit efforts to make it harder for South Dakotans not of his political persuasion to vote. Errors in elections have persisted under his regime, as shown by the missteps in Minnehaha County.

South Dakota Democrats, as we consider how best to deploy our resources for the general election, consider that the most important offices we fight for must include Secretary of State and county auditors. We have three weeks until convention to find a solid Secretary of State candidate to undo the errors and voter suppression wrought by the Gant regime, ills likely to continue under either Gant's lieutenant Patricia Miller or her challenger Shantel Krebs. Where we have races for county auditor (Brown, Day, Hutchinson, Marshall, Minnehaha, Moody, and Yankton), we must get behind reformers like Minnehaha County Democrat Tony Bartholomaus.

If Republicans like Gant are trying to depress voter turnout to protect their political interests, yesterday's dismal primary turnout suggests they are succeeding. Democrats, winning back the offices that run South Dakota elections would be an important step toward restoring public confidence and interest in voting.


  1. Steve Sibson 2014.06.04

    Cory, your criticisms of Gant are on solid foundation. But the real blame goes on those who did not vote. And what is the root cause of that? More and more people are coming to realize that they have no choice at the ballot box. The Republican versus Democrat feud is made-up BS. Regardless who wins, the government gets bigger and the people get smaller.

  2. Nick Nemec 2014.06.04

    One thing that jumps out at me in the voter turnout numbers is that in any election a Democratic candidate would do well to spend a lot of time on the reservations meeting people, learning issues, and getting voters out to the polls. In just two counties, Shannon and Todd, over 11,000 Dem/Ind voters didn't vote. The winning margin for Democratic candidates lives on the reservation, Tim Johnson knows this, everyone else needs to learn it.

  3. PNR 2014.06.04

    If everything you complain about regarding Gant were fixed, would voter turn out among Democrats have gotten to 20%? I rather doubt it. Part of it is that the attention paid to the antics by GOP candidates sucked the air out of the room. I'd bet a goodly portion of Democrats were unaware there were even primary candidates to vote on. I know I sure had to hunt and peck for news reports concerning the Lowe/Wismer race - unless I came here first, that is.

  4. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    FWIW: ip has a huge rez following and actively recruited people who regularly vote in those counties to register as GOP.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.04

    Nick, I'm of the impression that Lowe did spend extra time on the reservations working to get out the vote. He and Sue split the reservation counties, where turnout was mixed: higher than average for Dems/Indies in Dewey, Jackson, and Corson; lower in Todd, Ziebach, and Shannon. (Maybe of Indian interest: Lowe won in Moody.) But none of the reservation Dems distinguished themselves in turnout. We're going to need a more coordinated effort not just to reach them but to bring the to the polls.

    That, and satellite voting centers.

  6. Nick Nemec 2014.06.04

    The Democratic Party needs to defend and support its reservation base. The Republican Party has a long history of open racism and fighting anything that might help or support Indians.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    A West River American Indian running mate? Kevin Killer?

  8. Nick Nemec 2014.06.04

    Joe did spend extra time on the reservations, but it takes a strong ground game with an army of workers to motivate and get voters to the polls. This is why early voting centers are important, you start giving voters rides to the polls weeks before the election. In a remote area where many don't have reliable transportation or the cash to buy the gas to make an extra trip to town, a ride is very important.

  9. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    Cecelia Fire Thunder for Lt. Gov?

  10. The old white boy club of Democrats still runs the party on the reservations. At least her in Cheyenne River. Wismer stuck with her contacts. Ziebach shows that.

    I vote for an NDN Secretary of State.

  11. Troy 2014.06.04

    Blaming Gant for the fact less than 15% of registered Dems (indies vote in Dem primary so every Indy that voted actually decreased the Dem actual turn-out) is crazy. Whether there were issues at polling places (unless they were ultimately denied a ballot) or not has no effect on turn-out.

    Rather than looking to blame others (as I think Nick alludes), Dems have to look at themselves in the mirror.

    1) Structurally, the Dem's have allowed their infrastructure to decay beyond anything resembling a real party. The fact a lot of Dem's didn't even know there was a primary is both the candidates and the party's fault. A week ago I'm going for a walk in my neighborhood and stop and talk with 5 neighbors. The Republicans were discussing who they supported in our Legislative District primary and why. Just as I came upon them, the Dem said "I'm glad we don't have a primary." Sheesh, you do buddy and it is for your Governor nominee.

    2) High primary turn-out in a GOP primary has always been just shy of 40%. This occurs when there is contested races. 31% was actually pretty good in my mind considering there was no uncertainty in outcome. I thought it would be just above the worst turnout for Republicans (25%) in 2012 when the only race except for a few legislative primaries was the Presidential Primary which had already been decided.

    3) The 15% turn-out by the Dems when they had a clearly competitive race for Governor says a lot that should be concerning to Dems- Neither Lowe or Wismer inspired voters to think it matters.

    4) The Dem turn-out problem is beyond state-wide. Even where Dem's had contested legislative primaries, the turn-out was under 20% (usually under 15%) with the exception of District 1 House where it was above 40%. If the Dem's can't get more than 19% turn-out for a competitive primary in a competitive legislative district (#3-Aberdeen), the problem is systemic.

    Because I believe in the value of a two-party system, I've given a lot of commentary/advice in off-years for the Dem's to become competitive (it is usually rejected because of the visceral reaction to reject EVERYTHING from a Republican mouth). Its an election year so I'm saying nothing more than if you want a different result, you need to look in the mirror. Blaming someone else just makes it worse. Wallowing in "woe is me and the big bad Republicans are doing it" is pitiful. C'mon, I really want some real competition.

  12. lesliengland 2014.06.04

    fire thunder is certainly well-spoken, out-spoken, very talented. would be an incredible power on the scene after a stint as wismer appears to hold her cards close. intelligent. should be interesting but we gotta get out the vote to win, obviously. now the work begins. county dem meetings had better become well attended. there is so much on the line.

  13. 96 Tears 2014.06.04

    I read somewhere that the 2010 GOP primary with an open governor seat and the tea party swell that produced Kristi Noem's nomination was the lowest turnout on record. Now we see another low GOP turnout for a high stakes open Senate seat. If logic has it that the GOP is the contest while the general election is a formality in today's South Dakota politics, I find this trend interesting and disturbing. Is there data comparing state GOP primary turnouts in the last 70 years where there are open seats and big stakes for Republicans? I'd be interested to study what factors are shrink-wrapping GOP activism in the state.

    (Don't waste time with Democrat turnouts in primaries. Their trending seems synonomous with growing ranks of independents. That reminds me, did the state Democratic Party bother to promote to rank-and-file independents that they could legally vote in the Democratic Party primary, but not in the GOP primary? If people got turned away from receiving Democrat ballots because they are independents, there needs to be an earnest investigation ... by whom, I don't know since neither the SoS nor the AG are interested in protecting voters' rights unless they can kick around Indians or Democrats.)

  14. Steve Sibson 2014.06.04

    Troy, the Democrat's problem is the same for GOP conservatives. Because we are against Crony Capitalism, we can only raise about $30,000 while Daugaard and Rounds pull in millions.

  15. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    lol: we'll get back to you, troy.

  16. R.A.Johnson 2014.06.04

    Absolute mess yesterday in Minnehaha county for voting. Voters were "lost" and poll workers frustrated everyone Edgy on Primary day. With all the money spent by SOS bragging up military votes overseas expedited to the of 1/2$Million taxpayer dollars you would think voters INSIDE SD. Would have no problem voting! Tired of hearing all the great virtues of slick technology from Deputy Secretary of State on frenzied campaign trail during LDD.and when maybe if she knew how to fix the issues she should STAY in her office and do it!

  17. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    It sure would be a gas to have SHS presiding over the legislature.

  18. 96 Tears 2014.06.04

    Troy, you're mostly correct, but I don't recall much of a backlash when Chris Nelson and his predecessors gloated over large voter turnouts in other elections.

  19. Lynn 2014.06.04

    Is there going to be any improvement in the SOS after Gant? It will be decided during the state Republican convention since the Dems have no candidate

  20. Troy 2014.06.04

    96 Tears,

    All of that information is available on the Secretary of State website. If I recall the GOP primary turn-out record was 1986 (around 60%) when there was the Abdnor/Janklow Senate race and Mickelson/Roberts/Kundert/Hansen Governor race. Dem's also had a competitive Governor primary (Herseth, Kneip, Stofferahn) with around 40% turn-out.

    With the exception of the 1986 GOP primary, 40% turn-out is pretty close to the historical average for both parties. That was the turn-out in the 2010 primary you reference above so it wasn't the lowest on record but is average.

    What you had was in 1986 aggressive campaigning, aggressive get out the vote efforts and "stakes" that inspired voters in an extra-ordinary way.

    The Dem problem is evidenced that your current turnout is 40% of the historical average while the GOP is 80-90%.

    We have a problem but it pales in comparison to yours.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    Rapid City had a steady rain drizzle all day, that's always a factor.
    Kevin Woster posted on Facebook yesterday that he voted, but being a registered Libertarian he was able to vote in only race for city council.
    The voters on the reservation realized that their choices, Robertson and Weiland, were already and on the general election ballot. From what I'm hearing from Pine Ridge today, neither Joe or Susan hit the trust factor with them.
    When it comes to state politics on the reservations, trust is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome. There has and maybe always will be the trust factor. Indians don't trust the state.
    Additionally, there are many tribal members that don't like the IRA (tribal) government and will not participate in local elections, why would they vote in state elections?
    I'm not offering an excuse for poor voter turn out on the reservation, I'm only telling you some of the reasoning for that poor turn out.

  22. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.04

    Troy is mostly right for once. Roger as usual gives excuses for mediocre Native American voting when they have nothing else to do and claims he is not making excuses. Native Americans don't even turn out to vote for Native Americans on the ballot. They prefer whining about discrimination than doing something to get power and influence themselves and utilizing their voting power to do it.

    I can understand how they might not be any more enthused about crony capitalist A versus crony capitalist B however. I drove through rain to get to a voting place and had only 1 circle to fill with #2 pencil. Our only indication of positions on issues from Wismer and Lowe were the public TV appearances. I requested Lowe come down to this area. As far as I know, he never did, but then I don't think Wismer did either. Wismer comes from an area that is traditionally Democratic. Lowe didn't. He could carry a high percentage of Pennington Democrats and still lose statewide.

    Our choice is to "WORK FOR WISMER" and hope WISMER WORKS FOR SD.

    Wismer needs to start today tying Daugaard to Rounds and the attack on Rounds needs to hammer on him being the equivalent of a blank check to the richest 1% at the expense of the 99%. Weiland needs to hammer that and Wismer needs to hammer Daugaard for connection to that. Give the Republicans a dose of their own campaign attacking Pelosi and then tying Democrats to her. The time to start the attacks is yesterday. Alternate attacks with positive policy proposals.

    As Truman or Roosevelt said perhaps, why vote for a Democrat who votes and campaigns like a Republican when you can vote for the Republican.

  23. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    There was not an excuse, I critiqued what I saw and heard about the turn out on the reservation.
    Given your opinions about Native Americans preferring to whine, the same could be applied to your culture where nearly 80% of the eligible electorate prefers to whine rather than vote.
    And how about the white voters that voted for a corrupt and lying Mike Rounds?
    If you want to make this a racial issue Wiken, let's go! I can go on all day about the white corruption in this state.
    Remember Wiken, it is white man political system of cronyism you endorse every time you vote.
    Don't you have an elevated main street square to build in Winner?

  24. lesliengland 2014.06.04

    wik- you say "...mediocre Native American voting when they have nothing else to do...." repulsive.

    Ethnocentric [racist] individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and subdivisions serve to define each ethnicity's unique cultural identity. [my emphasis] wiki

    how far did you have to drive, from your subsidized home (on the rez that was taken from Indians by the Dawes or such legislative Acts and given to you), on paved streets, with dinner money in your debit/checking account, to vote for a couple of white candidates who only just showed up looking for your vote, in a car that runs, in the rain?

    You said "doing something to get power and influence themselves and utilizing their voting power to do it." When was the last time you stood up for yourself and US Army tanks showed up?

    You like to rationalize and reminisce about what good for the democratic party you have done. Why would any Native American trust you? there is no room in our party for a racist blogger.

  25. JeniW 2014.06.04

    When registered voters chose not to vote (I am not talking about those who have a valid excuse, such as being in the hospital,) they make the decision to let those of us who do vote make the decisions. If the non-voters do not like the decisions made by the voters, the non-voters own it.

    That does not mean that the voters who do vote will have their preferred candidate or issue win, but at least they expressed their opinion.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    Steve Sibson says Republicans oppose crony capitalism, and yet they vote for the most corrupt crony capitalist of all, Mike Rounds. Go figure.

  27. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.04

    Roger, I won't make excuses for Caucasians who fail to vote or vote for Republicans who screw them every time they get elected. Some of the out-of-state campaign workers were amazed when poor Caucasians living in ramshackle trailer houses said they were Republicans. It was a source of amazement, amusement, and acute sadness for them.

    People who complain the system doesn't work for them and they also refuse to vote or get involved get what they deserve when they are ignored by the political hacks.

    Of course there are some of us who vote and support good candidates and also get screwed by the hacks who get elected. It is not a good system as it is, but ignoring it is also not the answer.

    Native Americans and Caucasian ranchers are almost all in rural areas. There should be a natural coalition there. The "urban" areas of SD have enough votes in legislature to exploit rural areas and ignore the needs in those areas so long as some of those voters see racism under every rock and behind every tree.

    Those of us Native American or Caucasian will continue to get ripped off by the system until we demonstrate we can get our butts to the polls and vote in high percentages.

  28. Kathy 2014.06.04

    I used to live in a state that held open primaries. When you registered to vote, you did not register with a party. During the primary, you could choose which ballot to vote on, but you could only vote on that ballot. For example, if you chose to vote on the GOP primary ballot, but you wanted to vote for a Dem in a particular race, you had to write them in on the GOP ballot.

    One of the good things about this, besides everyone having a voice in the primary, was that it made it more difficult for candidates to pander to the extremes of their respective bases because someone might decide to vote on your party's ballot for your opponent because you alienated them by pandering. (Citizens United changed this and Wisconsin is way worse on the amount of political ads and 527 group ads they allow on TV). Open primaries actually made for better candidates...again, until Citizen's United. Open primaries was how, if you had a good rep or congressperson representing you, you could prevent the incumbent from getting "primaried" and candidates on the fringe being elected by the extremes of either base.

    I confess that I did not vote in the primary. I'm a registered independent. (My husband is also an Ind & he was told he couldn't vote in the Dem primary. There was time for me to go to vote after he got home, and what happened to him also factored into why I didn't go.). I'm so used to open primaries that when I looked at the ballot and saw how empty it was, it was disheartening. I definitely will vote in the general.

    I suppose I could change my party affiliation to vote in the primaries, but I can't bring myself to do it on principle. I'm an independent for a reason, mainly because I'm disgusted with both parties at the moment. (Also, it doesn't hurt that general elections depend more on Independents than on party faithful because independents could vote either way & I kind of like knowing I have that kind of power.)

    But back to the original issue of turnout, I can understand why it was so low on the Dem side. However, Dems might turn out in higher numbers if more people ran as Dems. I get the reluctance to call yourself a Democrat, especially in this state, but unless the Democrats nominate or run better candidates, they're always going to be in the minority.

  29. SDBlue 2014.06.04

    Gant is doing a good job confusing Minnehaha County voters. Sioux Falls recently had a city election where the voting centers were used. We have bounced back and forth between precincts and voting centers a couple of times now. The voting centers don't work. They run out of ballots, there are traffic problems, people wait in long lines to vote. So this time we went back to our normal precincts. Only a couple of those were schools under construction so those precincts were moved elsewhere. Volunteers were told the State notified those whose precincts had changed via post card. Some volunteers were also told not to put out voting signs the night before because those running the election feared the signs would be stolen. So signs didn't go up telling people where to vote until the morning of the election. (Maybe that is normal, I don't know.) I know some people who worked the election in Sioux Falls. They said they had many people who showed up at the wrong place to vote. I imagine all this has something to do with why voters in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County are disillusioned with voting.

  30. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    I don't need to be told the obvious about people that don't participate in elections. I vote and do by my diligence to encourage others to register and to vote, not just Native Americans.
    You continually dismiss or ignore my comments about Native Americans trusting state government, that is the core of the problem, it always has been and always will be until there is a concerted effort to involve Native Americans in the political process. Democrats make a half-hearted attempt, and Republicans don't want them to register and to vote.
    The only time you see political candidates on the reservation is election time and that is usually a hand full of Democrats. Republicans campaigning on reservations is nearly unheard of.
    Sen. McGovern was widely respected among the Sioux, he visited often and not just at election time. The same could be said of Sen. Abnor, Jim would make periodic visits to Pine Ridge, he was a Republican that wasn't afraid of Indians.
    And of course Sen Abourezk was a frequent visitor to the reservation, his son Charlie lived there at the time. He would call when he has flying in and I would drive him around.
    Those are the last three senators I recall taking an active interest in the reservation.

  31. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.05

    I'm all for Cecelia Fire Thunder as Lt. Gov. I had the opportunity to spend an evening with her and a bunch of Democrats when Cecelia was the OST chair. She is a rock star. People were drawn to her. She's tall, straight-backed, demanding respect, and a great smile. She has boatloads of charisma.

    It was a terrible loss to the OST that some of the old guard sabotaged her by lying to the elders about her.

    Susan and Cecelia - what a combo! (Can you imagine SD with an American Indian in the executive branch? That would be incredibly coooool!)

  32. Troy 2014.06.05

    So much for some serious self-reflection.

  33. Rorschach 2014.06.05

    In Minnehaha County my polling place changed. I got a postcard the Saturday before election day. My spouse who is a registered independent did not get a postcard for the new polling place. At the polls, my spouse was not offered a Democratic ballot - only the non-partisan judge ballot. If independents in Minnehaha and Lincoln County didn't vote in the Democratic governor primary it may be because they weren't offered the Democratic ballot and just took what they were given. When my spouse asked for a Democratic ballot the poll workers had to confer with each other to figure out if that was allowed. I don't think they were trained to ask independents whether they want the Democratic or just the nonpartisan ballot. Anyone who wasn't offered a Democratic ballot was deprived of their right to vote in that race.

  34. Lynn 2014.06.05

    Troy, Self-reflection? 95% of what I'm thinking is what can be done to re-build a true opposition party that will help make the entire process healthier bringing better candidates and governing via competition.

    I'm new to the process, an outsider and am not a political hack and in a way I feel I don't even have the right to say much since there are volunteers and state Democratic party members that have worked and sacrificed their time and hearts through the ups and downs of the party and see I'm sure with great frustration where it's at today.

    I look at it as when George McGovern was driving across the state at a time where there were probably 3 Democrats in the entire state and practically building the party from scratch.

    It's going to take old fashioned grunt work, sustaining between election cycles and the ability to raise money.

    Look at the state party website. Once candidates were officially on the ballot it would of been nice to see the district they were running in and a profile with contact info prior to a possible primary. Make it easy for those who may want to support them whether they are in that district or not.

    There are so many things we can do that help build a lasting infrastructure to help educate and empower voters building the party. Am I bringing any new ideas? No!

    Am I some fresh faced naïve person? No! I'm just one itty bitty person in the state and have an idea how much work it will take which looks almost Herculean.

    Anyone else? David Newquist?

  35. JeniW 2014.06.05

    Independents are not provided the opportunity to vote for candidates during the primary, whether they ask for a Democrat ballot or not.

    I have helped many people with voter registrations, and I have always told the registrants that if they write "Independent" on the form, they will not be allowed to vote during the primaries. Every Independent that I have told that to shrugged it off.

    I also tell people that if they do not chose a party preference, they will automatically be considered as Independents. When that happens, they cannot vote in the primaries either.

    The only way to vote for candidates during the primary elections is to register as Democrat or Republican.

    I wish it were not that way, but until that changes, that is the way it is.

  36. Nick Nemec 2014.06.05

    JeniW you are wrong. South Dakota statute allows political parties establish the rules of who can vote in their primaries. The SD Democratic Party decided several years ago to allow independents to vote in Democratic primaries. If independents were denied a Democratic ballot it's because poll workers were not properly educated in the rules for the election, another case of Secretary of State Jason Gant not properly doing his job. He really has been a complete failure and an embarrassment to all of South Dakota, not just his Republican Party.

  37. Lynn 2014.06.05

    Nick in this instance is this just another example of Gant's incompetence and/or another method for the Republican party to eliminate threats?

    Are any of those running for SOS going to be an improvement?

  38. JeniW 2014.06.05

    I stand corrected. Thank you for letting me know.

    "Primary: South Dakota is one of 22 states with a mixed primary system. Parties decide who may vote. Registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters may vote in the Democratic primary. Only registered Republicans may vote in the Republican primary."

  39. Nick Nemec 2014.06.05

    Lynn, I suspect the independents voting in Democratic primaries issue is an example of incompetence and indifference to his job. I hope it's not a Republican Party effort to solidify their hegemony.

    There are other voting issues where the Republican Party is making an concerted effort to eliminate threats. Refusing to establish early voting centers on the reservations is just one example.

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.05

    Roger, Lowe did real work on the reservation as fire chief, saved houses and such. Did that work not create good will? What does it take to earn trust and draw turnout on the reservation?

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.05

    Lt. Gov.: can we pick a nominee who won't take another Dem out of the Legislature?

    A Lakota nominee for Secretary of State would bring serious cred to that conversation. We need a strong SOS candidate to address the infringements of voting rights that we've seen during Gant's term.

  42. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.05

    Sadly, a Lakota nominee for SOS would guarantee a Republican would win...especially if that candidate harped on discrimination and "infringements" of voting rights. That dog won't hunt in South Dakota.

    A better strategy is to recruit legislative candidates willing to campaign on voter equality for everybody including efforts to make valid voter ID cards for anybody anywhere who needs them to vote at zero cost.

    The latest "voter fraud" by GOP and Independent candidates are a pretty good indicator that voter fraud by actual voters is an infinitesimal problem. Every Democratic candidate should make fun of the GOP party and their ALEC cohorts for the "voter fraud" partisan fraud.
    Twist that knife enough that better voter equality becomes inevitable.

  43. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.05

    If there was a Lakota on the ticket this fall, Republicans would find something wrong with him or her, this is South Dakota remember?
    All Lakotas don't find discrimination and racism under every rock, some do, we have inherited how we perceive injustice and unlike a few decades ago, speak out about it. For too long there was that quiet acceptance of prejudice, and now that we can holler about it, we are accused yelling racism about every little thing when in reality we are merely exercising our free speech rights.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.05

    I thought off and on all day about your question, what does it take to build trust, it is an important question right now, not just for the state, but for the Democratic party.
    Trust as you know, is a two way street in any kind of relationship, demonstrating that trust is another matter.
    Tribal chairman and councils need to reach out to to state politicians and vice versa, they need to take time to know and understand each others government and accept them, not criticize them.

    There are a variety of issues that the governments have in common and where they need each other, economic development and employment being the most important. Reservations have a ready work force and is ripe with every kind of talent.

    It was a surprise to see Lowe and Wismer split on the two largest reservations with Wismer winning Shannon and Lowe winning Todd and Tripp. Lowe didn't message very well with his opposition to Keystone XL and uranium mining in the hills. Given the tribe's opposition to both, you'd think he would win on that issue alone. And as you stated, his work on reservations as state fire chief should have been a bonus for him. I just don't know.
    Today is the anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's murder, it was Bobby's campaign that got me involved in politics and I proudly worked that campaign while I was in high school.
    If South Dakota Democrats want a solid reservation turn out, they will have to work at it. Candidates need to make more appearances on the reservation, SDDP has to invest money and shoe leather to make sure voters are registered and know their residence. On election day there needs to be a fleet of volunteers with vehicles to get people to the polls.
    George McGovern and Bobby Kennedy's campaigns were both aggressive in all these efforts and were successful, remember that Bobby won the 1968 South Dakota Democratic primary.

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.05

    Roger, I find it fascinating to be able to invoke Bobby Kennedy in a discussion of how to win in South Dakota. That's powerful history.

    Keystone XL and Powertech: Joe was pretty straightforward about his opposition to both, much more so than Susan. Did that message just not get to the activists? What was missing there?

    Trust-building: that'll take more than one primary campaign. That will take a special class of candidates with loits of prior experience working on the reservations.

    GOTV: Yup, we need it for the general. But is serious reservation GOTV in the budget of any typical primary candidate?

  46. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.05

    Roger, one of the old-timers around here who went to school with Native Americans and into WWII with them claims there is a marked difference between those men and women he knew and the current generation. He is very irate that the widows of those men do not get the respect they deserve today. Perhaps that is just a classic generational split, but I suspect getting any kind of voting percentage out of the reservations and surrounding areas now would be much more difficult than it was 46 years ago.

  47. Jerry 2014.06.05

    Just an observation, One of the surest ways to stop voting is to declare that the voters are doing something illegal. We know this is the tactic that is used by attorney generals here in our state each and every election, but only on the reservations. Damnedest thing too, just like clockwork and especially if the attorney general is a republican and the election is felt close. I do not give excuses here, just observations. Do you think that may have anything to do with voter turnout with the threat of perhaps going to jail?

  48. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.05

    Jerry, I never heard of or encountered that problem. What has been a serious problem is years of losing voter registrations, simply saying you aren't registered, telling voters that live in the same household that they have to vote in different precincts, last minute changes in polling places, etc. All of these have lead to reservation voter apathy, why vote when I'm going to get the run around?

  49. Jerry 2014.06.05

    One thing I know and have seen, when you register voters, you get results. The get out the vote was a great thing and then fell on its fanny and here is where we are. Howard Dean did a good job with his 50 state thingy. Herseth did an exceptional job in Pine Ridge with voter registration and won.
    Here is why all of this is so important
    Because if you do not do it and let it go, bad stuff happens.

  50. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.05

    When Native Americans yell racism where none exist or where it maybe a simple misunderstanding, it irritates me to no end. It diminishes the cases of real racism.

    The best I can offer is that for generations now we have heard the stories or have experienced racism and prejudice and have passed those stories down to the current generation. Inter-generational trauma is real, we can feel the abuse of government missionary schools, the poor treatment or total disregard for our health by the Indian Health System. The era of Jim Crow, which is when I grew up, are locked in my mind. I would like to forget, but I can't. The burden is mine and I hate it, I'll be forever skeptical of my white neighbors, even when I know they are my real friends. Fortunately, my hate is gone.
    Native American that have always been the first in war and have proudly served this country only to come home to various hate has always appalled me. There was a time when the American Legion didn't allow them to be members, as I was told.
    As a whole, Native Americans are very patriotic and respect this country, it baffles me the disconnect when comes to exercising their right to vote.

  51. Jerry 2014.06.05

    Here are some of the attorney generals reports

    Pick any election and then match it with our local attorney general. It is the same playbook.

  52. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.05

    The Kennedy campaign was an experience of a life time, getting to meet and visit with him that April of '68 was my enlightenment to politics and campaigns.
    On the reservations and in most rural areas there isn't always the luxury of cable tv and the internet, both effective for President Obama, but not always available.
    That is why I favor the oldest from of grassroots organizations, they provide a personal contact and send the message that someone is concerned about their future.
    A couple weeks ago, I organized a meet and greet for Rick Weiland in Manderson, the crowd wasn't huge but it served its purpose. Those meeting Rick were struck by his magnetism and his genuine warmth. He did so well there that he actually got some cash donations. The people loved him.
    As to Lowe and connecting with the tribe on Keystone XL and mining, I just don't know. Perhaps he should have advertised his position in the Indian newspapers. That was my primary reason for supporting him and made him stand out from Wismer.

  53. barry freed 2014.06.06

    Not yet discussed are the effects of the Voter ID Law. When first passed, rumors were circulated that the Police and Sheriffs Departments would be at the polls to arrest on outstanding warrants. Republicans from Texas called Native sounding names from the phone book in Sioux Falls, telling them about this risk of arrest. As Voter ID Laws are racist schemes to discourage non-white and low income voters, I have vowed to show solidarity with fellow South Dakotans for whom the great expense of gaining a Picture ID interferes with voting and never present my expensive ID.
    When I tried to vote on June 3, I was told it was Law and I could not vote if I didn't show my Driver's License, period. They were going to let me walk out of the door, when I stopped, turned around and said: "I will need something in writing that I was not allowed to vote". It was only then I was told of the Affidavit.

  54. Les 2014.06.06

    If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

  55. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.06

    Les, that likelihood has little to do with voter ID. It is hard enough to get people to vote once let alone multiple times. In any case if IDs are needed to vote they should be available free.

  56. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.06

    Doug, that is an excellent point on ID's.
    Remember it was a Republican legislature and governor that raised ID fees to $20 (they still contend that it was not a tax increase).
    In fact, every tax or fee increase the past 40 years was done those tax hating Republicans

  57. Nick Nemec 2014.06.06

    Don't forget the cost of all the required documentation to get an ID. Last I checked the state wasn't handing out free copies of birth certificates.

  58. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.08

    There is much absurdity in the ID laws and rules. A lady friend in Tripp County was born in Iowa before that state had birth certificates. She has lived in the same house or an adjacent one on her farm for all of her life with the exception of the first one or two in Iowa as a baby or toddler.

    She has paid taxes in Tripp County for over 40 years. She was forced to get a statement from Iowa that they had no record of her birth there.

    I suggested she should also request statements that all the other states also had no record of her birth there.

    She also had to get proof of her divorce even though she did not change her name.

    South Dakota is a place where many residents who have been here nearly all their lives have had driver certificates or driver licenses since they were 14 years old. Requiring a half dozen proofs for those people to claim who they are is absurd...except as a way to hassle women and Native Americans of both sexes. The absurdity may also be part of those costs for anti-terrorism that can not demonstrate any benefit.

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