Voting is a fundamental right of our democracy. The decisions made on school boards, city halls, at the state legislature and the United States Congress impact the lives of all South Dakotans. And while there are so many ways to influence our elected officials, there is only one way to determine who those officials will be: by voting.
On Tuesday, voters will decide which candidates will represent us for the next few years. I’m excited to cast my ballot; I hope you are, too.
South Dakota is fortunate that we don’t have extreme voting laws that have disenfranchised voters around this country. Though we could improve our voter ID process, move registration online and expand polling locations, our current voting laws are a good start. It would be a shame if we allowed our voter registration laws to become a vehicle for voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, rather than a simple set of guidelines for eligible voters.
Still, from knowing where your polling place is to knowing what kind of identification to bring, finding the right information to vote can be difficult. And what happens if technical difficulties arise? Polling stations in eight counties using the state’s electronic poll book systems were hit by computer glitches during the primary election in June causing some people to be unable to vote or delayed in voting. In Rapid City, some voters were even turned away from their polling places as officials tried to rectify the problem.
Because nothing is more sacred to our democracy than the fundamental right to vote, South Dakota should be doing everything in its power to encourage participation from all eligible voters. Elections are central to our democracy, to our institutions and to our government’s legitimacy. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative, you should want a fair system.
The American Civil Liberties Union has a long history of helping voters understand and exercise their rights. We have been at the forefront of the fight against voter suppression as well as the movement to allow new voter access and will continue to do so after the election next week and beyond. The ACLU of South Dakota will be available to all South Dakotans on Election Day to ensure our voting processes across the state are fair and open to all. If you encounter any issues on Election Day, you can call 605-368-0644 and we will do everything in our power to make sure your eligible vote is counted.
Empowering every American with the correct information to exercise their right to vote is crucial to a transparent and equal democracy.
See you at the polls.