The Senate Local Government killed a measure dealing with outside election money. South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant brought the bill to the committee, at the request of the State Elections Board.
Gant says members are trying to keep outside groups from dictating where polling places and other items are placed. Gant says it doesn’t stop groups from encouraging all residents to vote.
Gant says, “If Bill Gates wants to give 10 million dollars to encourage people to register to vote—to encourage people to go to the polls—bring it on. Yes! We want every single penny. We’d happily tell them, 'Do some TV ads, do some mailings to the public; get everyone who isn’t registered to vote registered to vote, and do whatever they want to do on that private side. Not in the actual administration of the election.'”
The measure concerns O-J Seamans with the Native American voting rights group, Four Directions. He says the organization has worked to improve voting access on the reservations, and passage sends a message to Native Americans they don’t matter.
Seamans explains, “In order for tribes and tribal members to try to improve their social and their economic situations on the reservation—they have to participate in the electoral process. Now, we’re getting there—we have senators and representatives from the reservation, and members that work with the legislative staff, to take and try to go forward. If this bill is to pass, what it’s essentially saying is ‘We want you to take those social and those economic problems, and we don’t want you to participate in the political process. And so we want everything to be status quo.”
After nearly 40 minutes of discussion, Senate Bill 33 was killed by deferring it to the 41st Day.