Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 28, 2024

The House State Affairs today voted to advance Senate Bill 123, legislation that, as amended, would move the voter registration deadline from 15 days before an election to 30 in an attempt to match the state’s 30-day durational residency requirement to vote.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Senate Bill 123. Lengthening the voter registration cutoff date to keep the restrictive 30-day durational residency requirement in statute is merely a pretext to disenfranchise voters.

“South Dakota has been heralded as the freest state in the nation – but restricting access to one of the most fundamental rights we have as Americans, participating in our democracy through voting, strips new residents of their freedom to take part in our elections,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. Restricting the terms and requirements of registration is one of the most common forms of voter suppression.”

While matching the voter registration deadline with the durational residency requirement to vote is an important correction for consistency, because it brings the two requirements farther from the length of time required in South Dakota to establish residency – just one day – without a clear governmental interest to justify the added burden on voters, Senate Bill 123 is highly suspect under the law and likely unconstitutional.

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court affirmed in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voter registration do not withstand legal scrutiny and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Requiring a citizen to reside in a certain place for a predetermined length of time places an unnecessary barrier to a citizen’s right to register to vote and participate in elections,” Chapman said. “Our lawmakers should be 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.