Saturday, September 30, 2023


South Dakota’s voting policy for full-timers is confusing

NOTE: There have been a lot of comments on this post. I want to make it clear upfront that we look at Jury Duty as a responsibility and an honor. The issue for us is lack of South Dakota’s flexibility to move the dates with consideration to RV living and travel. I then became concerned about recent bills, that although they did not pass were aimed at restricting RV voter rights.

My husband just received a Summons for Jury Duty in South Dakota. No problem, I thought. We are full-time RVers, miles from SD, and I will just contact them and he will be excused or the date moved. Two days, with emails back and forth and no luck (at all), he is ordered to appear in South Dakota for September/October for 30 days on call.

We are campground hosts through October 20th; we can’t leave the park in the lurch and still expect to be brought back the following year. We also have all our doctors’ appointments and a minor skin cancer treatment scheduled through that time—appointments that took months to get.

December in South Dakota?? In the RV?? In the snow??

I explained all of that, major health issues and more, in detail with the Minnehaha County Jury Manager and the Presiding Judge. They showed no mercy. We were only offered a chance to move it within the year. No, not next year after the spring thaw, but in November or December of this year. December in South Dakota in the winter… on icy roads… in a motorhome. And over Christmas! More than 1,600 miles from our snowbird retreat! To say I was shocked is an understatement.

We asked our readers

On Wednesday, we added a poll to the Full-Time RVer Newsletter and asked if other RVers had seen any changes in their state of residency. 23% have seen changes and some left comments explaining those changes.

Sandy B. has been full-timing for three years and writes, “We have been Floridians since 2020 without a residence there as we are full-timers. We were denied the ability to vote as we have a traveling mailbox that Florida deemed ‘Not a residence’ (even though the traveling mailbox company states you can use it for voting). We were also residents of California before that and also were denied a voter registration due to the traveling mailbox.”

Donna also noticed the change in voting: “We are residents of FL through Bushnell— Escapees. I noticed the same on the absentee ballots. I don’t know what’s changed for jury duty.”

Reader LR wrote us: “We are registered in SD and the new law states we can only vote federally now. I really don’t care about not voting for the state, I feel those that live there year-round should make those decisions anyway.”

Editor’s note: There is a lot of information floating around regarding the voting rules and at this point, I confirmed that absentee voters can vote in local and federal elections. That, of course, could change at any time. 

“Full-time RVers not welcome here”

I contacted several businesses that have RVing customers that are affected by new and attempted law changes of rights for full-time RVers. They had a lot to say. Evidently, a number of bills have been submitted in the state legislature aimed at RVers. Russ and Tiña De Maris of reported on them earlier this year.

There is now an overall concern among RVers that the state wants to oust full-time RVers from voting and residency to ensure voting and enforce jury duty. This would certainly push RVers out of the state. The sign might soon say, “Full-time RVers not welcome here.”

Two bills that did not pass

Two bills to restrict RV voters’ rights were deferred to the “41st” legislative day of a 40-day session, which virtually killed the bills.

  1. House Bill 1232 basically would have established residency in South Dakota based on a permanent fixed residence that the resident plans on returning to in order to vote.
  2. Senate Bill 124 basically covered voter registration and referenced that residency could not be a commercial building or campground.

Domicile and voting

Senate Bill 139 did pass and as of July 1, 2023, to vote, you must have established residency in the state for 30 days. Established is a rather vague term and does not specify a bricks-and-sticks building. The Attorney General, Marty Jacky, sent it back to the Secretary of State and declined to do the legal interpretation. He left it to be enforced by state auditors. Again, Russ and Tiña De Maris clarify it in this article. It certainly supports the prevailing agenda and campaign promise of Secretary of State Monae Johnson of “ridding the voting polls of RVers”.

Is it a conspiracy theory?

It has been rumored that these new laws were brought forth because of the fear of voter fraud and accompanying conspiracy theories generated by the 2020 election. There was the misguided belief that tens of thousands of RVers were coming into the state right before the election and voting.

I spoke with a mail forwarding company who processes about 100 new customers a month. They certainly would have known if ten thousand or so new applicants came to their door to be processed! They also have strict standards for all the mail-in ballots that are forwarded and can substantiate that every single one was sent to an established South Dakota resident—they did a full audit.

Are RVers wild-eyed hippie liberals?

If there has been concern by the party in power that RVers are some wild-eyed hippie liberals, the registration polls show that over 85% of registered voters using mail forwarding of ballots are registered Republicans. Those wild-eyed liberal Democrats are only 15% and in no way can overthrow one of the reddest states in the nation.

Are they pot smokers, too?

There was also the unwarranted fear that RVers would tip the tables toward the legalization of marijuana. Very few full-time RVers vote in the local elections. It is overwhelmingly the national elections that concern RVers when they cast their votes.

Laws and at least strict enforcement vary from county to county

Laws differ from county to county in South Dakota, so check your county for any changes, enforcement or interpretation of current laws. Minnehaha County is vastly different than Pennington County. In South Dakota, a number of businesses are actively working to address the issues for RVers. Judges change and they can enforce the laws and rules as they see fit.


I strongly believe that this attempt to change laws for full-time RVers in South Dakota or any other states favorable to RVers is shortsighted. As most South Dakota full-time RVers, we rarely travel there. We do not use the roads, the schools, parks or a myriad of other things our RV sales and registration tax, vehicle license tabs or online sales tax helps pay for.

We are after all the “Golden Goose.”

Another business owner very close to this issue let me know that rumors abound and most of them are false. He assured me that companies and various governmental bodies are working together to provide timely and accurate information. He believes strongly that South Dakota is not going to do anything that will damage their full-time RV “Golden Goose”.


For us, there appear to be a couple of options at this point. 1) Go to South Dakota (a 1,600-mile drive from Arizona) in the winter in the RV, rent an Airbnb for a month and miss Christmas with our kids. Or 2) Change residency to a different state or change counties of residence. While changing counties may be the easiest, it may not be the best long-term solution. We value deeply our ability to vote and will do whatever we need to continue that fundamental right to have our voices heard and vote.

Please add your comments below. Are you a full-time RVer seeing changes to voting and residency laws in your state?


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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1 month ago

I’m sorry if this is too blunt, but why are you even citizens of SD in the first place? Why not become citizens of the state you consider “home”? If you become a citizen, you should be prepared to do your full part as a citizen of that state. The reader who suggested a polite letter from your attorney giving reasons and requesting an excuse makes sense. But, you appear to only want to be fair-weather citizens, so why not settle in a place where you are prepared to be a full citizen, instead of being offended by the expectations of a state you don’t really want to live in? (Could it be you only want the perks without the responsibilities?)

1 month ago
Reply to  CeeCee

Not sure what part of “full-timer” you are not grasping. Full-timers do not have a place they consider “home”. Yet you have to receive mail somewhere, and you have to pay for vehicle tags somewhere. There are a few states which allow you to declare domicile, similar to what many members of the military or merchant marine do, and you pay your vehicle taxes there. If ‘my’ state wants to ban me from voting in local elections, I can see their point, but demanding people who travel full-time show up for 30 days to hang around for POSSIBLE jury duty is just silly.

Before you start accusing people of underhanded motives, understand the situation.

John Olson
1 month ago
Reply to  wanderer

Many FT RVers still have somewhere they call “home” or where they spend the winter or at least a few months a year. We use Arizona… and still have our mailbox, “legal address” as that state as we spend about 4-6 months a year in Arizona. We still “live” in our RV full time but we dont travel full time. Full time RVers are not necessarily Full time Travelers. State laws are always going to change so we have to be flexible in our thinking and change may upset our future plans. But if you want to be a citizen of any state for beneficial reasons then you also have to accept the responsibilty that goes along with that which in this case is jury duty. Maybe an RV exemption might be in order.

Terri R
1 month ago

We are getting ready to retire & truly appreciate these kind of issues brought to light in RVTravel. I think they updated FL to require paid bills at your address in order to get a drivers license & therefore residency (was a PIA last time I renewed) for all they required. Has anyone ever tried to get a census count on true, FT RVers? Maybe they need their own ‘state’ with post office, some taxes to cover the governance, even their own drivers license & ID system? Add representation in DC !

1 month ago

I find Nancy’s situation a contradiction to efforts by states such as South Dakota trying to limit the ability to vote in local, state, and national elections. These states can’t have it both ways, taking away your ability to vote but mandating your presence for jury duty. Once again blind-eyed politician can’t see their noses on their face.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

Nancy Dixon The lawyer I’ve slept with for 52 years suggests a nice letter from your lawyer confirming scheduled medical appointments,+ you are a subcontractor to an employment contract till 10 31 2023 to the jury duty people. (In Florida, it’s the Clerk of Courts) along with possible dates you find more convenient. Give them the problem AND the solution at the same time.
Also general info for the public, Attornies strongly dislike putting ANYBODY with ties to the legal system on a jury. This meant I had to pack a lunch and a book and appear at the courthouse for 3 days. Maybe ask can you do it Skype? Sometimes lawyers can do this.

1 month ago

The legal system, run by the government, does not like anybody that criticizes the legal system. I got summoned once for jury duty in my home state just after I got divorced. I wrote back to summoning authority that I just got divorced and had no stomach for lawyers, judges, or the legal system in general. I got excused quickly.

1 month ago

Nanci- the article inadvertently points to a lack of community engagement in your lifestyle choice. I presume you don’t have a sticks and bricks church affiliation, no kids attending school, just a temporary camp host gig! Buy a plane ticket with the $$$ saved not paying for local services in South Dakota. Its regressive tax system suits you or you wouldn’t “be” there. Your values are showing.

1 month ago

Maybe there is a real concern by citizens of South Dakota. A concern people with no real ties to the state, county, or community, will influence issues that affect the full time residents but not the RVers. Recall a county in Az whose schools were gutted by the influx of retirees to the local 55+ housing development. These people had no children or grandchildren living there so didn’t care about supporting or financing local schools. They took over a majority of the school board and proceeded to gut the school district. At one point the schools couldn’t even provide school books. Did they do things by the book? Yes. Was it the right thing? A bit different situation but makes me think.

1 month ago

I was initially confused by the content of this article vs the headline. Having to appear for jury duty isn’t an attempt to take away voting rights. So , at least there was some coverage about voting laws.

As for jury duty, I worked for jury services for a time, and the process of pulling names for jury pools is very regulated and under a great deal of scrutiny. So, it makes sense that they could not defer your service into a different juror calendar.

I get that it’s an inconvenience. But jury duty is the other side of voting rights. So, again, the headline vs the content was a bit confusing.

Stefan trestyn
1 month ago

You gambled and lost

Mann Fred
1 month ago

I see the Governor on TV saying come to SD. Why is this such a big issue, unless this the local government just harassing RVers.

1 month ago

What a mess. So many opportunities out there. So many decisions to make. Only in America. It seems like anyone can do just about anything they want. Move to South Dakota, Calif, Texas, Arizonia, Florida. And yet some people want to blame the municipalities for the decisions they personally made. If it doesn’t bide well for them, its wrong. It must be nice to have the power, the money, to move where you want and do what you want, and take advantage of whoever it may be to satisfy what you want. What happens when you loose your job, loose your house, and all you have looking forward is Full Time RVing? No residence, no address. How do you renew your drivers license? Where do you go?

1 month ago

Hope there is some solution to be found that does not cause problems with the campground hosting job and all the doctors’ appointments, Nanci. It’s kind of eye-opening to witness downsides of being a nomad. It’s also kind of an eye-opener how many people commenting here are willing to drop their long-term plans, doctors appointments, vacations, and jobs at a moment’s notice for their civic duty. Bless your hearts.

Charley Dickson
1 month ago

Nanci, have you thought about changing your mail forwarding service? I suggest America’s Mailbox in Pennington County. I’ve gotten two jury summons while in another state, and both times didn’t demand that I return for jury duty.

Bill Byerly
1 month ago

I’m not in a position to take sides on this issue as we’re not full timers. After reading all of the comments up to this point, I think you really poked this hornets nest with a big ol’ stick. Not sure how race was even brought into it either. Kinda sad

1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Byerly


Sally Harnish
1 month ago

Just exactly why 20 years ago we went with Escapees and Livingston, TX. and are still there.

1 month ago

For a long time they spoke about passing a national voting law for people who travel with no permanent home can register to vote in presidential elections. That was not mentioned in the article. People can find a family member (better than friend) to use for physical address then have their mail forwarding service. Mail rarely ever goes to the physical residence if you make sure every thing you fill out has that has a mailing address. No different than people who have a PO box.

Regarding poster ‘Jim’ comment – not every one has a ‘sticks and bricks’ to keep. Not every one can afford to pay for a house or apartment and still be a fulltime RVer.

Richard Chabrajez
1 month ago

Well, first off, your husband was called to jury duty because you guys are registered to vote. I’m guessing you knew that was the consequence going in. Somehow, the article morphed from jury duty into voters’ rights. If the elected representatives of South Dakota are worried about the political leanings of RVers, they can walk across the street and talk to Justice Clarence Thomas (a Prevost owner) he’ll set them straight on just how many dope smoking liberals he’s met in his many years of RVing.

Chuck Woodbury
1 month ago

Richard, when did Clarence Thomas say that? What is your source? I doubt he or anyone else said it. I’ve been RVing half my life and can only say I have seen a tiny fraction of 1% of RVers who I could say with authority might fit that description.

1 month ago

You reap the benefits of being a South Dakota resident. Otherwise, you would domicile in another state. Now, fulfill your obligation just as any other state resident would have to do and quit whining about it..

1 month ago
Reply to  JimmyJ


1 month ago
Reply to  JimmyJ


1 month ago

I am a Florida resident with a sticks and bricks home.If you are over 70 you can be permanently removed from jury duty.

Bob Walter
1 month ago

No sympathy here… jury duty is part of being a voting citizen. You can’t have it both ways.
Maybe you should relinquish your voting rights and give up all the perks of being a South Dakota resident.

1 month ago

Sounds like you could always change you state of residency.

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