Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 21, 2024

With a 9-3 vote today, the House State Affairs Committee voted to pass a bill that would expand and protect Native American voting rights.

The ACLU of South Dakota supports Senate Bill 119, legislation that would allow Native American voters to register to vote using their Tribal identification on the same par as a state-issued driver’s license. It would help Native Americans overcome the structural and socioeconomic barriers that have long contributed to their historically low participation in elections.

“If Native Americans can engage fully in the political system — free from the barriers that currently obstruct them — they can participate in America in a way that is fair and just,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Passing this bill and signing it into law would remove a significant obstacle to voting for many Native Americans in South Dakota.”

Across the United States, approximately 34 percent of the known eligible Native American voting population is not registered to vote, according to the Native American Rights Fund.

“Voting is a constitutional right that is fundamental to the health of our democracy,” Chapman said. “We’re thrilled to see South Dakota lawmakers doing everything they can to encourage participation from all eligible voters – not making it harder.”

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.