Know Your Rights: Voting in South Dakota

Some things go better if you’re prepared. Get ready to vote and make your voice heard!

The fight for voting rights remains as critical as ever. Politicians across the country continue to engage in voter suppression, efforts that include additional obstacles to registration, cutbacks on early voting, and strict voter identification requirements. Through litigation and advocacy, the ACLU is fighting back against attempts to curtail an essential right to our democracy: the right to vote.

Here are a few ways you can be prepared to get your vote in easily, get your vote counted, and make sure your voice is heard in South Dakota:

  • Check your voter registration status at least 30 days before the election.

  • Locate your polling place and note the hours of operation. 

  • Consider voting early or absentee if possible. If you plan to vote at the polls, go early in the day to avoid the last-minute rush.

  • Make sure your ID is valid and up to date.

  • If anyone challenges you about voting, don't get mad - get help or call our voting information hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683).

Where to register to vote  

  • County Auditor’s office
  • Driver’s license offices
  • Municipal finance office
  • Public assistance agencies providing Medicaid, food stamps, TANF, or WIC
  • Department of Human Services offices that serve the disabled
  • Military recruitment offices
  • Secretary of State’s Office

More information

  • South Dakota Secretary of State
  • U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Voting Section
    • 800-253-3931
  • If you have problems voting or have additional questions, please call the national, non-partisan Election Protection hotline:
    • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
    • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)
    • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287)
    • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

Please note, this page is a resource, not legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. South Dakota may revise its laws after this page is printed or published online. If you believe your rights have been violated or for more information on your rights as a voter, contact us at or email​​​​​​

General voting information

Q.General voting information

To register to vote in South Dakota, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen. (South Dakota Constitution, Article VII, Section 2)
  • Reside in South Dakota.
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election.
  • Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction which included imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary system.
  • Not be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.

Voting while attending college

  • If you are a South Dakota resident who has moved to a new county to attend college, you can still vote. As a college student, you have two choices on where you register to vote:

    • Where you live now, whether that is an on-campus or off-campus address.

    • Remain registered and vote at your prior home address in South Dakota.

Voting with a criminal record

  • You must re-register to vote after serving your sentence. 
    • You can vote if:
      • You have been sentenced only to pay a fine, fee, or restitution. 
      • You have been charged with a crime but not convicted. 
      • You have received a suspended imposition of a sentence or have been sentenced to only pay a fine, fee, or restitution.
    • You cannot vote if:
      • You were convicted of a felony and are currently serving a sentence of imprisonment, including parole and probation.
      • Find more information at: 

Voting if you're experiencing homelessness 

  • To register to vote, you must identify a place of residence (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other place where you usually stay). You must also provide a mailing address, such as a shelter or advocacy organization.
  • If you'd like to vote absentee or vote early, you can go to the county courthouse in the county you're registered to vote in and cast your ballot in-person.
  • To vote on Election Day, go to the polling place you're assigned to and cast your ballot.
  • If you have a photo I.D. with you on Election Day, show that to the election worker. If you do not have a photo I.D. on Election Day, you can sign an affidavit swearing that you are who you are, and you will be given a ballot by the precinct worker. 

Voting and ADA requirements

  • Call your county auditor right away and ask for accommodation or reassignment to an accessible polling place. All polling places are required to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • If you feel you cannot vote on the day of election, fill out an absentee ballot application and mail it to your county election official as soon as possible.
  • If you need help at the voting booth because of a physical disability or because you have difficulty reading or writing in English, tell a poll worker when you get to the polling place. If you need instructions on how to use the voting equipment, ask a poll worker for help. They are required to help you anytime, even if you ask after entering the voting booth.

Moving and registration changes: 

  • If you moved before Oct. 19, 2020 and didn’t update your voter registration to reflect your new address before that date, you will be unable to vote in the Nov. 3, 2020 election unless you moved within the same county or voting precinct. Make sure to fill out the “Previous Voter Registration Information Required” section with your old address.
  • If you have had a recent name change, we encourage you to update your voter registration. Download a voter registration form by scrolling down and downloading "South Dakota Voter Registration Form." Fill out the bottom portion of the registration form "Previous Voter Registration Information Required." Once completed, please mail the form to your County Auditor or drop if off in person during normal business hours.

  • If you decide to change your party affiliation, you must update your voter registration by completing a voter registration form, then mail or return to your County Auditor, or drop it off in person. 

Registering to vote

Q.Registering to vote
  • You must be registered to vote 15 days prior to an election. The 2020 deadline is Oct. 19.
  • If you miss the Oct. 19 deadline you will be unable to vote in this year’s election, however you can register for future elections.
  • Confirm or update your voter registration by visiting

Early voting

Q.Early voting

Voting before Election Day:

  • Any registered voter can vote before Election Day by casting an absentee ballot. Absentee voting begins Sept. 18, 2020.

Finding absentee ballots:

  • You may request an absentee ballot via application and get your ballot after that. Reach out to the South Dakota Secretary of State's office if you don't have access to a printer to get a paper copy of the application. 

To ensure your vote is counted:

  • Place your ballot in the return envelope and seal it securely.
  • Complete the statement on the back of the return envelope and SIGN IT.
  • Mail the ballot (voter must pay for postage to mail the ballot unless the voter is covered under the UOCAVA act), deliver it in person, or have someone deliver it for you to the person in charge of the election. Do not return absentee ballot to your polling place.
  • Registered voters must pay for postage to mail back their ballot unless they're covered under the UOCAVA act.

    • United States citizens covered by UOCAVA include:

      • Members of the United States Uniformed Services and merchant marine and their family members

      • United States citizens residing outside the United States.

        • Visit for more details and to confirm if you’re covered under the UOCAVA act.

  • The ballot must be received by the person in charge of the election in time to transmit it to your precinct polling place before the polls close on election day.

 Additional information on absentee voting is available at

Voting on Election Day

Q.Voting on Election Day

Election Day 2020:

  • Nov. 3, 2020, with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m.

If you are running late:

  • You have the right to vote if you’re in line or inside your polling place when the polls close.

Getting time off:

  • If your work schedule would make it practically impossible for you to vote in-person while the polls are open, your employer is required to give you time off to vote without penalty or deduction in your wages. You should ask your employer for time off before Election Day. Your employer has the right to specify which hours you get to take.

Polling location:

  • On Election Day you must vote at your assigned polling place, which can be found at:

Voter I.D. laws

Q.Voter I.D. laws

All voters who appear at polling places must show proof of identification.

Acceptable forms of I.D. include: 

  • South Dakota driver’s license or photo I.D.
  • U.S. Armed Forces I.D.
  • U.S. government photo I.D.
  • Current student photo I.D.
  • Tribal photo I.D.

Voting without identification:

  • If you are voting without I.D., you can sign a personal identification affidavit and you will be allowed to vote using a regular ballot.

Please note that as of July 1, 2020 South Dakotans are now able to register to vote with more than one approved form of I.D.

  • Approved forms of I.D. include: 

    • South Dakota driver's license or nondriver I.D. card

    • U.S. government photo I.D. (passport is acceptable)

    • U.S. Armed Forces I.D.

    • Current student photo identification card from a South Dakota high school or South Dakota accredited institution of higher education

    • Tribal photo I.D.

Common questions

Q.Common questions

What if I’m not on the list? 

  • Ask the precinct worker to double check. If you are confident that you are at the correct polling place but are informed that you are not on the registration list, you may vote using a provisional ballot. 
  • Provisional ballots are used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility.
  • When you cast a provisional ballot, you will be asked to sign an affirmation of eligibility before being allowed to cast your vote.  You will be sent a notice within 10 days (longer if it falls within a weekend) indicating whether your ballot was counted or not. If it was not, you will be told why.

What if I go to the wrong polling place? 

  • Ask a precinct worker to help you find the polling place where you are registered so you can go to the right polling place. You can also call your county clerk or look up your polling place at:

What if I make a mistake on the ballot? 

  • It happens. You can request a new ballot from the precint worker.

How do I register by mail? 

  • You can also register to vote by mail using the South Dakota voter registration form. 
  • Be sure to read the instructions carefully and fill it out completely. 
  • Send the completed form to your local election official. 
  • To register by mail and vote in the 2020 election, the form must be received by Monday, Oct. 22.

Get involved

Q.Get involved
  • Become a precinct worker!
    • Precinct workers are key players in running polling places on Election Day.
    • This paid position is recruited by your County Auditor.
    • Find out more by visiting 

Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Voters

Q.Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Voters

Everyone deserves to be able to assert their fundamental right to vote without unnecessary and harmful barriers. Voting is a key part of our democracy and participation in society. Everyone has the right to vote regardless of their gender identity and should be able to have their voices heard on important issues. 

Things to Consider when Facing Barriers / Usage of Photo IDs

  • If all other legal requirements are met, as a transgender and gender non-conforming individual you are entitled to your right to vote.
  • Differing makeup, hairstyles or clothing from your current photo ID are not valid reasons to be denied a regular ballot.
  • You may look different from your photo ID for various reasons.
  • As long as the photo in your ID identifies you, regardless of gender marker matching what gender you are presenting as, it is valid for voting.
  • It is not illegal if the gender marker on your photo ID is not updated prior to voting.

If you experience discrimination when attempting to vote, please let us know.

Voting while hospitalized or recovering at home

Q.Voting while hospitalized or recovering at home

If you are hospitalized before Nov. 2nd at 5 p.m., you are eligible to vote by regular absentee ballot. The County Election Official must receive your application for regular absentee ballot by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2. Your completed ballot must then be returned to the election official by poll closing on Election Day. 

If you are hospitalized between Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. and before Nov. 3 at 3 p.m., a registered voter may apply in writing and obtain an absentee ballot via authorized messenger process. Learn more at