Last month we reported on two proposed laws before the South Dakota legislature: House Bill 1232, which would “revise provisions related to residency for voter registration,” and Senate Bill 124, which proposed changes to “update maintenance and verification requirements for voter registration files.” Both were on the docket. In the view of many, these bills would have nixed registering to vote for many (if not all) full-time RVers.
As we’ve since reported, both these bills died in committee. Now, however, another bill, Senate Bill 139, has passed and, if signed by Governor Kristi Noem, could have deadly effects for those wanting to vote in the Mount Rushmore State.
Residency requirements and RV vote
Senate Bill 139 (SB 139) is titled, “An act to revise residency requirements for the purposes of voter registration.” The language decidedly cinches down just who qualifies as a state resident, at least in terms of those who qualify to vote. “The term residence,” says the bill, “means the place in which a person is domiciled as shown by an actual fixed permanent dwelling, establishment, or any other abode to which the person returns after a period of absence.”
Some might argue the point as to just what qualifies as an “establishment” which they might come back to. Should the Governor sign the bill, it could become a matter of a court fight to spell out the specifics. But other language could create issues. “A person is considered to have gained residence in any county or municipality of this state in which the person actually lives, if the person has no present intention of leaving.” Just what does it mean, “has no present intention of leaving”?
No more “overnight” and register
Under current law, to register to vote in South Dakota simply means an overnight in the state. No lengthy stay requirements. Here’s how one private mailbox service says the process works. “You need to spend at least one night in South Dakota to become an official resident. No matter whether you spend that night in a campground in your RV or in a posh hotel before you ship overseas, we promise you’ll enjoy your time in South Dakota.” As to the technical aspects, they add, “You’ll need to document your overnight stay in South Dakota to obtain residency. Your accommodations will be able to provide you with a receipt stating your name and your new PMB address.”
Under SB 139, it’s a whole new ballgame. “Every person who maintains residence as provided [under this law] within the state for at least thirty days prior to submitting the registration form….” Instead of spending a delightful day and night in South Dakota, if you want to register to vote, you’ll need to “maintain residence” for at least a month prior to registering. For those who might think they can “fudge” on this one, the bill adds some rather sharp teeth.
“Fudging” on registration could lead to jail
Under a new section added to existing law, SB 139 states, “The voter registration form must include a certification of voter eligibility by which the applicant attests, under the penalty of perjury, that the applicant … has maintained residence in South Dakota for at least thirty days prior to submitting the registration form.” In South Dakota, committing perjury is not taken lightly. Our reading of the law suggests potentially two years in the penitentiary and/or a $4,000 fine if convicted.
SB 139 passed both houses of the legislature, and as of March 8, was waiting for the Governor’s signature—or veto. We made repeated attempts to get a comment from Governor Noem’s office regarding her intentions. As of press time, we had heard nothing back. Should the Governor sign off on this bill, it may send a tremor through potential South Dakota RV full-timers.
I queried the SD Director of Elections (Rachel Soulek) on SB 139. Here is what she responded via email:
So, it appears that currently registered voters are safe…unless they want to change parties.
The latest version of the bill, as amended, is available here. It was delivered to the Governor on 8 March but has not yet been signed into law.
Thanks, Dr. Mike. We appreciate the update. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
Thanks Dr. Mike.
I wonder if the mail service addresses will still be permitted as permanent addresses? I am very agreeable to spending a month or two in SD at a campground, but my mail service will remain my official address.
The folks from the election office indicated that this change would only apply to residency for voting requirements. This means that to qualify as a resident in South Dakota a person still only needs to spend one night. However, under the new SB139, a person must maintain a residence in South Dakota for at least 30 days prior to registering to vote. As noted above, the 30-day requirement only applies to people initially registering to vote or who are “switching” registration (i.e., to change parties).
FYI – The bill was signed by the governor into law on Tuesday, 21 March, and goes into effect on 27 March.
Maybe I should buy multiple acres in SD, have them subdivided into small lots, resell them to people who want to be “residents”. They have a place to “go back to” and the state gets property tax. They wouldn’t have water or electric…just a piece of land.
South Dakota does not have an income tax, but it does have sales and property taxes, so the state government’s income is collected principally from resident property owners and resident and visiting shoppers who spend locally. In this situation it would be unfair for non-resident, non-property owners to vote in state elections as these citizens have not meaningfully contributed financially to the state coffers and therefore shouldn’t be in a position to determine how state funds are allocated or spent. In this light, these recent bills to extend voting rights only to the state’s taxpayers are understandable.
It should be as simple as your residence is what state your drivers license and vehicle registration is issued. Any of these phony out of state LLC’s to skip paying taxes on vehicles etc., is just another form of tax fraud.
Tax avoidance. Tax mitigation. Tax management. Certainly not tax fraud though.
Is that 30 days in the same campground, or can you drive around the state and stay in different places for the 30 days? Also will the current RV residents under the old law be grandfathered in?
Looks like full-timing will require sacrifices. No such thing as a free lunch. Spend 30 days or don’t vote.
That seems very reasonable.
Seems reasonable to me too
Governor Kristi Noem, she will definitely sign it into law.
Yeah, she’s pretty awesome huh!
What about the already full-time RVer who already has SD as domicile? Would we have to resubmit (with the 30-day rule) or are we grandfathered?
The movement to eliminate non permanent or non land owning RVers in South Dakota from the voting rolls is purely a symbolic act of the lunatic fringe right wing who currently run the state. It is a pointless “stand your ground” action that will have little if any impact on any real votes in South Dakota. What it does do is reinforce to a national audience that the bulk of the good, hardworking people like those who populate SD can be led astray politically by extremists and political groups who support hate, extremism, and separatist doctrine which is contrary to long established American traditions of inclusion and acceptance of all citizens and those on a path to become citizens.
There’s a mouthful.
Thanks—it’s always good to bring out the 2 word response guys.
Three words, duh! Count em.
Many many many more words in a response below however. More than even 12 words in fact. If you need a nap half way through, we’ll understand.
We have been full-time RVing 22 years as members of Escapees RV Club. We have been ‘residents’ of TX about 17 years and FL 5 years.
We only vote in National elections and leave the state, county & city elections for the local residents.
As it should be.
this seems fair. 30 days at one address is not unusual
I think So. Dakota is doing the smart thing. Too many states altered their election laws prior to the 2020 election, some unlawfully, to bolster the controversial mail-in ballot process. There were quite a few states that saw their voter registrations swell tremendously months ahead of that election. Even SD’s new proposed law only requires a 30-day residency, not long in my book. I can see full-timers having the right to vote for some national offices from their state of domicile, but certainly not local, state office, or even congressional seats that are meant to give voice to each state’s residents, not gypsies.
You are truly wise.
I wonder how informed about state and local politics and issues a voter who spends one night annually can be. Federal elections may be a different matter, and likely are. Surely it cannot be surprising that the motivations of South Dakota that led to it becoming the leading state of “residence” for full-timing RVers might change over time, ultimately pushing full-timers to take up “residence” elsewhere.
One month staying in the state is a pretty minimal requirement. I do think they should clarify the “abode” requirements, but overall I don’t have an issue with what they are attempting to do. Spending a month or more in the Black Hills area is far from a punishment!!! 🙂
I wonder if Montana will follow suit. I know some folks that license their vehicles in Montana for the same reason.
I think the vehicle licensing is done under the umbrella of an LLC and wouldn’t affect your state of residency. You can have a corporation registered in a state without being a resident.
Thanks Spike. I think that’s how they’ve done it.
Yes, that’s exactly how. Love my Montana plates through my LLC.
Ok, so how does this affect existing full-time registered voters? I’m registered, and have voted in all SD elections and for more than a decade, yet we are now sticks-and-bricks-less. Does that mean I’m not welcome anymore?
The following is offered without taking a stand either way. What about those RVrs without fixed address (e.g., no “sticks and bricks), are they not disenfranchised writ large? Yet there is advocacy to allow illegals the ability to vote? Cognitive dissonance.
Maybe get your Democrat senators and congressmen involved to implement a law to ensure voting for all. Tell them you won’t be able to vote for them come elections.
Absolutely, there is to much fraud that has been exposed in our election process, only registered voters should be allowed to vote. Want to go full time in your RV, then legally make your residence in the state you chose, no more just passing through the state to cast a vote, then go to another one and do the same. And yes that has happened. More than once,if you haven’t seen the truth then your not looking.
LOL. There’s been NO widespread “election fraud” exposed anywhere, unless you swallow the lies from RW media.
What exactly constitutes an acceptable amount of Voter fraud? Widespread… is that 2 fraudulent votes better than 200? Are you saying that as long as Voter fraud is not widespread its fine? Do you think Mark Zuckerberg invested $400 million into the last election as an altruistic act? We saw, I mean anyone that looked, hundreds upon hundreds of fraudulent votes at his $400 million worth of voting boxes. If you don’t see it, it didn’t happen? Look harder R.P. it’ll only hurt for a moment.
I agree with you whole heartedly.
This is thinking from a “little mind” perspective. Offer the evidence you have of fraud—and evidence does not mean what you hear and accept as “fact” from websites or broadcasts that can offer no evidence. Please list polling places you know of first hand and is appropriately documented that accepted votes from unregistered voters. I would be very interested in hearing the actual evidence that folks like you keep shouting about but all you can count as evidence is some undocumented news stories from questionable sources.
Speaking of asking for evidence, aren’t you part of the Russian collusion crowd? The crowd that impeached a president on no evidence? Now you ask for evidence? Where were you when $40 million went to Mueller on no evidence. This is thinking from the “duplicitous mind”. Not to be confused with your “small mind” reference.
I for one prefer small mind thinking to duplicitous lying.
Look harder or stay in your bubble that probably still plays the old reruns of the rehashed disproven story that Russia stole the 2016 election for the other guy. What a great country. You can be and stay misinformed for as long as you choose to stay in your dreamy world of equity and inclusion instead of equality and hard work.
Thumbs up! 🙂
Right on Conni. Don’t let them gaslight Deena Jones or yourself another day with their passive aggressive narcissistic comments. “Small minded”???? Because someone dared to disagree?
“Duplicitous” as Paul is, what an amazing insult to Deena. Another uninformed key board warrior.
Paul, not Deena.
I think you need to update your sources. Russia has been proven to have meddled in the election. Just look up any info on the subject after 2019.
Yes they did, but it was the Clinton campaign that hired Fusion GPS, that funded the Steele Dossier to disseminate a Russia storyline, so yes, the Hillary campaign colluded with Russia. In fact, and by fact I mean it’s factually accurate, he FBI offered Steele himself $1 million if he could corroborate anything in his dossier. He has not collected the money. So now the FBI has put their finger on the scale in 2016 against Hillary and 2020 against Trump. At least I acknowledge both parties/candidates got played, can you? Tired of the FBI and CIA messing with your elections yet? I am.
Look it up or stay in the dark. I don’t care either way. If a tree falls in the forest and you didn’t see it, did it make a sound?
Oh Tim, ignorance indeed appears to be bliss. Have you checked on the FACTS presented and are just shocked into silence because you have been duped so badly by your sources?
Paul, you are dismissing any Website or news source you don’t approve of, while embracing your sources’ info. Even on your sources, there were brief mentions of votes coming from cemeteries. That’s fraud. And ballot harvesting, where seniors in dementia wards cast ballots. However, your sources don’t feel their beliefs are supported by digging into fraud that helps their desired outcomes, so they don’t try to find evidence that disproves their beliefs. They are as one-sided as you paint the views of your opposition. I am not saying Fox News is not slanted, as I know it is. It is just that we, as news consumers, must acknowledge EVERY news source right now is slanted one way or the other. There is no source that I would say presents balanced reporting across-the-board. When dead people and dementia patients are voting, we should all be able to agree that there is fraud. And, as for you asking for personal observation of fraud; just because you did not see fraud occur, you are saying it does not exist? Or, are you just trusting your sources to report it, and if they don’t, you take their word for it? News sources are supposed to report, not just publish opinion pieces, unless they are labeled as such. Both sides, no matter the contradiction to their beliefs.
I was a full-timer and resident of South Dakota for 12 years. I typically spent three or four months there, spring and fall. My doctors and dentists were in Rapid City, I had a card at the local library, and, of course, spent money for food and necessities in local stores. I typically voted in person in the primary elections and voted early in the general election at the county courthouse. Like many others, mine was not just a ‘one-night stand’ and I feel that I gave back for the privilege of residency.