Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 15, 2023

On Thursday, the House Local Government Committee with debate House Bill 1217, legislation that would limit who is eligible to vote absentee. 

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1217. Voting absentee is a safe, secure and easy way for South Dakotans to vote and eligibility requirements to do so should not be restricted.

Currently, South Dakota voters do not have to provide a reason to vote absentee. House Bill 1217, however, would require that people provide an excuse for not voting in person, only providing absentee ballots to people who will be outside of the county on the day of the election or otherwise unable to cast a ballot because of illness, disability or observance of a religious holiday.

“Because nothing is more sacred to our democracy than the right to vote, our elected officials should be doing everything they can to encourage people to vote – not making it harder, as House Bill 1217 would do,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Elections are central to our democracy and to our government’s legitimacy. Restricting who is eligible to cast an absentee ballot limits the ability of all South Dakotans to participate in democracy.”

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.