South Dakota Politics
A University of South Dakota law student's blog dedicated primarily to shining light (either a harsh, unyielding spotlight or a soft, warm glow) on figures and institutions in South Dakota.

Friday, January 24, 2003  

As was noted yesterday, the South Dakota House passed a bill introduced by Secretary of State Chris Nelson relaxing absentee voting requirements. The proposed law would allow people to vote absentee without giving an excuse, such as being out of town on election day. But isn't that the whole point? If you vote absentee, that must mean you are absent! SDP's primary concern is that absentee voting is much more susceptible to illegal activity than voting in person at the polling place. That is why the ability to vote by absentee ballot is a privilege, not a right. Courts continually emphasize the fact that absentee voting is a privilege granted electors and not an absolute right. The South Dakota Supreme Court has said as much and more in Brown v. Dakota Pub. Serv. Co. (68 SD 169 at 178):

Voters voting under the provisions of the absentee voter statutes exercise a privilege not enjoyed by the electors who go to the polls and vote on election day. They should be required to strictly comply with the requirements of the statute in order to prevent fraud and preserve the purity and integrity of elections. We approve the language of the New York Court in In re Baker, 126 Misc. 49, 213 N.Y.S. 524, 528, as follows: "This absentee vote statute is in derogation of the general Election Law and should be strictly construed. Its provisions should be rigidly adhered to; otherwise the repeater, floater, and non-resident are given a free hand to gain results satisfactory to themselves. * * * The voter, wishing to cast an absentee vote, must comply with all the statutory demands, and the power of the board of elections is held within those lines. * * * It cannot pass out absentee ballots at the mere asking. This would make fraud and vote buying too easy."

This bill would essentially allow the passing out of ballots at the mere asking. Given what occurred last fall here in South Dakota, absentee voting should be undergoing more scrutiny, not less. Yes we want voting to be easy and we want everyone to vote. But the desire to facilitate the opportunity for each person to vote has resulted in increased opportunity to use absentee ballots improperly. Once one has registered fraudulently, he or she can obtain an absentee ballot for every election thereafter if he or she wishes. The lack of “in-person, at-the-polls” accountability makes absentee ballots the “tool of choice” for those inclined to commit voter fraud. Those inclined to do so can capitalize on others’ access to an absentee ballot by voting their ballot for them, often with the actual voter not knowing what has occurred. This offers tremendous opportunity for vote fraud, particularly to those who have access to the ill or infirm or those who do not have the ability to resist the influence of another as they are urged to vote in a "required" manner. It also encourages those inclined to commit voter fraud to seek to utilize absentee ballots provided to those whose interest in voting is marginal or non-existent. The bill as it is currently written must be stopped in its tracks.

FLASHBACK: This is why there needs to be more srutiny of absentee voting requirements, and why it is unbelievable that a bill relaxing those requirements is sailing through the legislature.

posted by Jason | 10:26 AM

Thursday, January 23, 2003  

SDP has been informed that Secretary of State Chris Nelson's bill relaxing absentee voting requirements has passed the House by a vote of 44-24. This is unacceptable, and the tide has to be stopped. Call your state senator and tell him to stop the tide. This is not a bill that should be sailing through the legislature. Absentee voting is the preferred method of those who would commit voter fraud. Making absentee voting easier makes voter fraud easier. The bill has to be amended or be killed.

posted by Jason | 4:16 PM

The infamous Tony Dean has gotten wind of SDP and has sent along a (not so) friendly e-mail in response to whether he's thinking about running for the House as a Democrat. Here it is in its entirety:

IF I were, I'd be breaking it to a larger audience than your website

If I weren't, I'd have fun stringing you along.

If I were, the story David Kranz ran whereby so-called big whig Dems were
urging me to run would be a very smart political move. So would having Roll
Call break it in the National Capitol. Nothing like having a national pub
say you're hot, right? Makes a potentially good TV ad.

With a pair of slams at me in the short history of your website, you must
think I'm running.

If I were, the additional name ID I picked up on the Senate race might
suggest I used Tim.

But if I weren't, would you accept the fact I approached Tim and volunteered
to work on his behalf, including doing commercials...with no expectation of
a personal gain?

And, if I were, the fact I know how to use TV and radio would make me a
formidable opponent. It's been enough to garner the highest Nielsen ratings
in the nation and more awards than any other show or individual. I'd worry
about that if I were against me.

But if I weren't, it wouldn't matter.

Remember though, the GOP's wrongheaded views on conservation as outlined in
your take on the wetland issue, will drive a lot of folks away from the


We're not worried about you running here at SDP, Tony. We hope you do. You may end up doing Republicans a favor by knocking Stephanie Herseth out of the running for good.

posted by Jason | 3:20 PM

John Thune is the "tip of the spear." It's looking more and more like John is going to take up arms against the dark side one more time:

The White House apparently believes Janklow, a freshman lawmaker elected to the state’s sole district in an open seat race last November, would be a weaker candidate than former Rep. Thune in taking on Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D).
A well-placed Republican aide said White House officials have told Janklow that the administration would support Thune in a primary. They conveyed the same message to Thune, adding that they would back him financially in a Senate campaign.
Thune is weighing opportunities in the consulting industry but two years ago Rove persuaded him to abandon a relatively easy gubernatorial bid and instead take on the tougher fight, against Tim Johnson for South Dakota’s junior Senate seat. Thune lost controversially and by less than 500 votes, but is credited with keeping the Democratic Party on the defensive.
“People refer to John as the tip of the spear,” the aide said. “He took the shots that allowed the other races to succeed. Because Tom Daschle spent so many resources in South Dakota, it looks like they may have neglected other races. If John hadn’t run, they would have written off the race.”

Tom Daschle is reeling, and the White House is lining up its knockout punch in 2004.

posted by Jason | 9:16 AM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003  

As the Washington Post reports, Joe Foss was buried at Arlington yesterday.

posted by Jason | 9:37 AM

SDP is proud to have been mentioned in a recent South Dakota Shooting Sports Association newsletter. SDP has the highest regard for the Second Amendment, because as everyone knows, it's the amendment that makes the others possible. SDSSA can be seen here.

posted by Jason | 9:13 AM

Tuesday, January 21, 2003  

OK, it's time to handicap the people chattering about getting the Democratic nod to run against Congressman Janklow. First off, the clownish Tony Dean, who the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported today is thinking about changing his party affiliation (don't let the door hit your ass on the way out of the Republican Party, Tony). Tony will long be remembered as selling a BS line to the people of South Dakota, as reported by Roll Call:

Despite his Republican registration, Dean weighed in heavily last year
on behalf of Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) during his tumultuous re-election
race against then-Rep. John Thune (R). Dean appeared in several Johnson
ads, including the final spot of the race. In it, Dean spoke directly to
the camera, noting that a vote for Thune was a vote against Sen. Thomas
Daschle (D-S.D.) as Majority Leader and would take away Johnson’s seat
on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

The absolute disingenuousness of that argument still blows me away. Tom Daschle is the minority leader anyway. Tony, Tim Johnson USED you. Do you think Tim will be supporting you against Stephanie Herseth? I highly doubt it. Speaking of Stephanie, she has to be seething at this new development. A primary battle between Tony Dean and Stephanie Herseth is an EXTREMELY pleasurable thought. Oh, and Ron Volesky says he'll run if Janklow decides not to run for re-election, which is shaping up to be a real possibility, now that Daschle is staying put. So there may be a three-way battle to be the Democratic nominee for the House. Amazingly, Tony Dean might actually do Republicans a favor by snuffing out Stephanie's political aspirations in South Dakota forever. So run, Tony, run!

posted by Jason | 10:06 PM

My good friend Joel Arends has been called to active duty and may ultimately deploy to the Mideast. He's making a big sacrifice, as he has been forced to withdraw from the law school as a consequence of being called up. He leaves behind his wife and his young son. I have nothing but admiration for him. I'm reminded on many levels of the stirring speech given by King Henry to give his men courage in the coming battle in Shakepeare's Henry V:

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

I wish Joel Godspeed and Good Hunting.

UPDATE: SDP has what must be a first in blogosphere history: a combat blogger. Joel will be blogging from the front.

posted by Jason | 6:38 PM

The Scribbler a.k.a. Dave Kranz reports that Tom Daschle is only one point ahead of John Thune in recent polling. I am now wondering why, if Tom Daschle has so much clout, is he within the margin of error in a potential Senate race? The answer is simple: Tom Daschle has no clout and the people of South Dakota realize it!

Why hasn't the Lewis and Clark water project been accelerated? Why are South Dakota farmers still waiting for drought relief? Why are Medicare payments not proportional to what other states recieve? What about reducing the forest fire hazards in the Black Hills? What about prescription drug relief? Why do West River ranchers still have to worry about prairie dogs? Why are our Indian Reservations being strung along by liberals who take their votes but don't solve their problems? Why isn't the Stockyards and Packers Act being enforced to ensure fair prices for farmers and ranchers?

Tom Daschle has no clout and that is why South Dakotans are not sure they want to keep him as their senior Senator. After all, he has spent 20 + years representing South Dakota and that is why John Thune is within the margin of error in recent polling. South Dakotans are not comfortable with Daschle, he's gone Washington on us. Uh, wait a moment, he's been Washington on us since he went there.

posted by Joel | 5:04 PM

LA Weekly has an excellent analysis by Doug Ireland on why Tom Daschle wussed out of a presidential run. Her name is Linda. The key part of the analysis is this:

It’s a sign of how lazy, blinkered and source-coddling the Beltway’s national press corps is when one considers that none of all this made the dissections of the senator’s presidential withdrawal — even though a tough piece by the Washington Monthly’s Stephanie Mencimer in the January 2002 issue laying out much of it was still on newsstands. As she observed, “It doesn’t take Lee Atwater to see how Mrs. Daschle’s professional life might play out in a nasty re-election or presidential campaign: ‘Sen. Daschle’s wife lobbyist for nation’s most dangerous airline,’ or ‘majority leader’s wife lobbied to make airlines less safe.’”

David Kranz and Randall Beck, are you listening? Why doesn't your paper pull out all of the stops investigating this story? Why be as lazy, blinkered and source-coddling as the Beltway press corps? This story could win you some redemption for that "He's Running" disaster. I'm not holding my breath.

posted by Jason | 1:39 PM

It must be the South Dakota edition of Roll Call today. There are many new tidbits to discuss, but I must do so later as I have 1st Amendement Rights class in an hour.

posted by Jason | 10:42 AM

Here's Chris Nelson's proposal to relax absentee voting.

posted by Jason | 9:41 AM

Here's an update on what's happening in the legislature.

posted by Jason | 9:26 AM

Monday, January 20, 2003  

I watched "About Schmidt" this past Sunday, and George Will has an excellent musing on the movie. It's a rare achievement by the movie industry to depict familiar places and personalities here in the upper Midwest so accurately and unapologetically. One of the funniest and most nuanced scenes is Schmidt driving his car to the post office and listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Like any good work, the movie says something about what it means to be human.

Hat Tip: High Plains Observer

posted by Jason | 10:40 PM

Today is the Martin Luther King holiday. Charles Krauthammer wrote a piece on the civil rights movement during the Trent Lott debacle that I think is a fitting tribute:

The civil rights movement brought about the abolition of the American racial caste system. Enfranchising a minority is, in and of itself, a singular achievement. But the civil rights movement rose above sectarianism and insisted on defining itself far more broadly as a vindication of America's very purpose. Martin Luther King succeeded in taking a liberation movement that could easily have turned irredeemably divisive and deeply anti-American -- note the bitter endemic conflicts engendered by other liberation movements around the world -- and dedicated it instead to a reaffirmation of American principles. The point is not just what King and his followers did for African Americans, but what they did -- by validating America's original promise of freedom and legal equality -- for the rest of America.

posted by Jason | 2:45 PM

As part of my daily duties in keeping an eye on Tom Daschle, I encountered this transcript of Tom's appearance yesterday on Foxnews Sunday.

posted by Jason | 2:32 PM

Veteran Capitol Hill reporter Robert Novak offers a fascinating glimpse into Tom Daschle's brave new world. It's horrifying how fast and loose Tom and his party are playing with democratic principles. It's why Tom has to be boxed in as much as possible by the state legislature.

posted by Jason | 2:00 PM

South Dakota gets mentioned in light of voter fraud in a piece by Robert Bartley in today's Wall Street Journal.

posted by Jason | 12:47 PM

Secretary of State Chris Nelson is causing a stir with some new proposals on voter registration and absentee voting. Sadly, these proposals would seem to make voter fraud easier, not more difficult. Internet voter registration is a mistake. But the most worrisome development is the relaxation of absentee voting requirements. Absentee voting is the preferred method of those who would commit voter fraud, and it needs to be restricted, not relaxed. It needs to be remembered that absentee voting is a PRIVILEGE, and NOT a right! Chris Nelson seems to have forgotten that a key issue in this year's legislative session is voter fraud. Fortunately, state legislators seem to be skeptical, and I doubt the bill(s) will become law. There is a silver lining to this cloud. There is an opportunity here to affect the behavior of certain nationally prominent Democrats. The best example is the law passed last year preventing Tom Daschle from running for two offices at the same time. That law forced Tom Daschle to choose. Republicans wield tremendous power in the state legislature, and they should follow the pattern established last year to put a box around Tom Daschle. Narrowing the absentee ballot requirements would force Tom Daschle to work harder during the next election, because there won't be a cushion of fraudulent votes out there for him anymore. The Republican strategists in the state legislature need to be creative and find ways to put a box around Tom Daschle. It can be done.

posted by Jason | 12:18 PM

Sunday, January 19, 2003  

Even the reporters at AP feel compelled to comment on the unusual volume of Tom Daschle's knee-jerk opposition to the administration of late. Keep it up Tom! This is what put you back in the minority to begin with!

posted by Jason | 2:35 PM

David Kranz has on article on the odious "anti-war rally" yesterday in Sioux Falls. As is always the case, there are the legitimate dissenters who love America but disagree with the policy of the administration, and then there are the ones who just hate America:

Bob and Theresa Sullivan drove 162 miles from Woodbine, Iowa, to join other family members.

One of their sons received the Purple Heart in the Vietnam War, but the Sullivans were gathered as a group to express opposition to the Bush administration's possible action against Iraq.

"We are for peace and want a peaceful demonstration here today," Bob Sullivan said...

Enter the hate-America clown:

As they held their signs, Mike McNulty of Sioux Falls paraded along both sides of the bridge with an American flag upside down.

Bob Sullivan was disappointed.

"We don't like to see that kind of thing here," he said.

One of the best commentators on this movement, particularly the hate-America component, is Victor Davis Hanson a professor at the US Naval Academy:

Since, for our postmodern relativists and multiculturalists, there can be no real superiority of Western civilization over the available alternatives, democracy and freedom are themselves to be understood as mere "constructs," to be defined only by shifting criteria that reflect local prejudices and tastes. Like Soviet commissars labeling their closed societies "republics" and their enslaved peoples "democratic," Saudi officials assert that their authoritarian desert monarchy is an "Islamic democracy"--and who are we to say them nay? ("To my ear," the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof helpfully explains, "the harsh [American] denunciations of Saudi Arabia as a terrorist state sound as unbalanced as the conspiratorial ravings of Saudi fundamentalists themselves.") In Afghanistan, the avatars of multiculturalism and utopian pacifism struggled with the facts of a homophobic, repressive, and icon-destroying Taliban, but emerged triumphant: According to their reigning dialectic, the Taliban still had to be understood on their own terms; only the United States could be judged, and condemned, absolutely.

It is with this sort of analysis and argument that the likes of the clownish Mike McNulty of Sioux Falls can quickly be overcome.

posted by Jason | 11:03 AM

Sorry about the dearth of posts. My girlfriend and I went on a daytrip to Omaha on Saturday. I know, excuses, excuses.

posted by Jason | 10:31 AM
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