Bills Enacted to Strengthen Election Laws
Gov. Noem Signs Election Integrity Legislative Package Into Law
PIERRE–Republican legislators celebrated the passage of 10 election integrity bills to strengthen the security of South Dakota elections and increase voter confidence in South Dakota’s election laws.
“We took a secure and user-friendly election system and made it even better,” said House Majority Leader Will Mortenson (R-District 24). “We worked as a big team to keep South Dakota the model for election integrity and voter access.”
“Voters asked for the Legislature to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws,” said Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree (R-District 8). “With the Stronger and Safer for 2024 bills, South Dakota is the gold standard in the United States. We have dedicated election officials and strong laws to administer fair elections with accurate results.”
The success of the package is thanks to the collaborative effort of legislators, Gov. Kristi Noem, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Secretary of State Monae Johnson, the South Dakota Association of County Officials, county auditors, and other election experts.
In January, Rep. Mortenson and Sen. Crabtree announced the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package. In total, Gov. Noem has now signed 10 election-related bills into law that passed with the overwhelming support of Republican lawmakers.
Prime Sponsors: Rep. Tyler Tordsen (R-District 14) and Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17)
This bill adopts best practices for testing electronic tabulation equipment for election day paper ballots. The measure also requires equipment to be locked, sealed, and unused between testing certification and election night. It passed the Legislature unanimously.
SB 160 establishes a post-election audit process to examine a sampling of each county’s primary and general election results to verify a manual count and machine count are consistent with the official election canvas. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.
SB 140 updates voter registration laws to improve the accuracy and security of the state’s voter registration list. It also codifies transparency expectations of the Secretary of State regarding voter registration data. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.
HB 1165 is a comprehensive clean-up bill to absentee voting laws. It corrects out-of-date citations to federal election requirements, updates style, corrects oversights, bans unmonitored ballot drop boxes, expands election officials’ authority to reject absentee ballots of disqualified voters, expands poll watching access, and bans ballot harvesting activities. It passed the House (57-11) and Senate (30-4) on a mostly party-line vote.
Ranked-choice voting confuses voters and reduces voter confidence in the process and outcomes of our elections. SB 55 bans the use of ranked-choice voting in South Dakota. It passed the Senate on a party-line 31-4 vote and passed the House 63-5.
SB 139 requires a voter in state elections to be a resident of South Dakota for at least 30 days. It passed the Senate 29-4 and the House 68-2.
In 2021, in the aftermath of the SD Supreme Court’s rejection of Amendment A legalizing recreational marijuana, the Legislature established a judicial challenge process for initiated constitutional amendments. Now, single-subject challenges occur prior to signature gathering. HB 1140 expands the challenge process to Legislature referred constitutional amendments. It passed the House 67-1 and passed the Senate unanimously.
This commonsense legislation mandates the Secretary of State to maintain and publish one official list of candidates. In the 2022 election, there were two lists on the Secretary of State’s website with conflicting information. SB 102 passed both chambers on consent.
If no candidate in a primary election for statewide office receives 35 percent or more of the total votes, the nomination moves to a runoff election. Current statute sets the date as 10 weeks from the primary election. This update moves it to 8 weeks after the primary election.
HB 1114 updates oath requirements, conflict of interest parameters, and board makeup in partisan races for recount boards. It passed the House 62-6 and passed the Senate on consent.
Republican lawmakers demonstrated their commitment to common sense solutions and strengthened South Dakota election laws with the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package.