2014: Opening Satellite Voting Offices with Help America Vote Act Funds
Native voters on reservations lacked the opportunity given to every other eligible South Dakotan to vote early in person — and South Dakota state government was doing everything in its power to continue this unequal practice. A federal court ordered South Dakota to open satellite voting offices in two reservation counties without county courthouses, but state and local governments claimed they didn’t have the resources to provide the same opportunity for all reservation counties. For equal access to in-person early voting, Native voters needed a new approach.
Persuade the South Dakota Board of Elections to reimburse cash-strapped reservation counties that open satellite voting offices for Native voters with Help America Vote Act funds sitting unused in the state treasury.
The Four Directions Approach
Four Directions isolated all the excuses counties presented and created solutions to take all excuses off the table. We identified a public source of funds to pay for satellite voting offices, persuaded county commissions to pass resolutions in support of opening SVOs with those public funds, and exerted enormous public pressure when the Secretary of State punted to the federal Election Assistance Commission.
The EAC had no members and as such, had no ability to give an answer – despite the fact that the Secretary of State had previously said in depositions that he had authority to issue HAVA funds himself. Since the Secretary of State wanted to play games with voting rights, we joined with three Sioux Tribes to file a voting rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
In the end, the Secretary of State and Board of Elections buckled under the weight of embarrassing media attention. He formed a HAVA task force that rewrote our HAVA state plan to incorporate funding for SVOs in additional reservation counties for in-person registration and early voting. While the previous Secretary of State tried forcing counties to spend all of their own meager county HAVA funds before requesting abundant state HAVA funds, we persuaded the newly elected Secretary of State Shantel Krebs to exclude satellite voting offices from the limitations.
Now, any predominantly Native county that qualifies for a satellite voting office can get one at little to no cost.
South Dakota making it harder for Natives to vote
INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK, 8.2.13
Secretary of State defers to empty eletion panel on Indian satellite voting centers
SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER, 8.2.13
Request for tribal voting centers is reasonable, deserves answers
SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER
EDITORIAL BOARD, 8.6.13
Four Directions and Three Sioux Tribes File Civil Rights Complaint
INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK, 8.7.13
EDITORIAL: Why deny funds for voting centers?
RAPID CITY JOURNAL EDITORIAL, 8.9.13
History Repeats Itself: Why is South Dakota Denying American Indians an Equal Opportunity to Vote?
EUNICE HYON MIN RHO
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, 9.9.13
ACLU and Great Plains Chairmen Go to the Mat for Sioux Voting Rights
INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK, 9.10.13
Task force to examine early voting
SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER, 9.13.13