There’s a debate raging in Pennington County on the increase in the wheel tax by the County Commission, and one of the points being brought up in the debate is that a group of RV owners, who call the county home, could wield enough electoral clout to put the increase in wheel taxes down.
That’s raised the ire of State Senator Craig Tieszen, who put them on notice that he plans to introduce a measure to strip them of their South Dakota citizenship:
If Americas Mailbox customers vote in large numbers, they could be the deciding factor in the election that will not only determine whether the county can collect a wheel tax, but also whether Pennington County will qualify for part of a pool of state money for local road and bridge projects.
“Can they carry an election? They could if they wanted to,” said Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson, who oversees the county’s elections.
That possibility has gained the attention of state Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City. He hopes to pass legislation that would prevent similar situations in the future.
“Something needs to be done about it,” Tieszen said. “It’s reprehensible to think that people who do not live in this state could sway an election.”
Americas Mailbox co-owner Don Humes said his customers bring thousands of dollars in extra revenue to the county and state through vehicle licensing and registration fees, and they deserve a say in ballot issues that affect them financially.
“I’m surprised any politician would tell any citizen of the United States that they shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” Humes said.
That changed following a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the case of Dunn v. Blumstein. The court ruled that so-called durational residency requirements violated the constitutional right of Americans to travel freely between states without surrendering their ability to vote in federal elections.
Theoretically, the South Dakota Legislature could pass a law imposing 30-day residency requirements — like those imposed in municipal, township and school elections — on special county elections that are not held in conjunction with federal elections.
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, who is the state’s top elections official, said she is open to discussing that kind of legislation with lawmakers. The 2016 legislative session begins five days after Pennington County’s wheel-tax election and continues into March.
I think we can look at this by noting that the Supreme Court has spoken definitively on the topic, because the alternative is to create an even bigger mess.
If we passed legislation to strip those people of a portion of their voting rights, in a November election, would those RVers only be able to vote for President, US Senate, and Congress, leaving the rest of the ballot blank? And who would be responsible for marking them as Democracy limited on the voter rolls?
Since they will only be able to vote on a portion of the ballot, maybe we could declare them as only 3/5 South Dakotans, while taxing them at 100%. Just in case someone tries to slip by, maybe we could have them take a South Dakota Literacy test before they vote….
Yeah… that’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about when someone wants to try to limit ballot access, or qualify them as only a portion of a state citizen. It’s not just a little discriminatory. It’s utterly discriminatory.
What was that thing we fought a little war over? Something about “No taxation without representation…?” These people, who declare their residency here in a completely legal manner are taxed as South Dakotans, are licensed and register their vehicles as South Dakotans, and considered in census and legislative districting as South Dakotans.
Trying to strip them of a portion of their voting rights because they call South Dakota home, but like to drive an RV around the country is offensive, and should be a measure that’s dead upon arrival in the legislature.