First Time Voters Denied Following Student Registration SNAFU

Nov 8, 2016

A sheet used to list voters on election day.
Credit Kent Osborne / SDPB

A number of students who signed up to vote during a registration drive at Augustana University in Sioux Falls won’t be allowed to cast a ballot today.

School officials say a stack of voter registration forms gathered at the school were dropped in the mail on time.  But those forms didn’t end up turning into confirmed voter registrations.

Dr.  Emily Wanless  is a professor of political science at Augustana University.    She says the school took part in a registration drive on National Voter Registration Day where students helped other students register to vote.  

“Those voter registration forms were collected and were mailed in by one of the students at a Hy-Vee in Sioux Falls.  And, as of right now all we know is there are a number of those students who did not show up as registered who did fill out those forms,” says Wanless.

According to Wanless voters were not grouped by party affiliation before the mailing.  

“The students that were involved in the registering and who were getting registered were from all over the spectrum. They were those who affiliate with Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, and Independents. They are men and women, South Dakotans and from neighboring states, first time freshman and upperclassmen. The Government Club is a nonpartisan organization that takes that charge very seriously,” says Wanless.

Wanless adds that the problem only impacted South Dakota voters not those in other states.  
 
“It’s terrible,  I feel awful.  I know the students who participated in the voter registration drive feel terrible.  There was no malicious intent certainly.  But at the end of the day students who want to participate are being you know,  are unable to do that, which is unfortunate,” says Wanless.

Wanless says the mailed voter registrations were not sent certified mail and without a return receipt.