One Vote That Won't Count

Without making a single Chicago joke, Slate investigates whether the dead can vote in South Dakota: At the conclusion of her victory speech in Charleston, ...
by | May 15, 2008
 

Without making a single Chicago joke, Slate investigates whether the dead can vote in South Dakota:

At the conclusion of her victory speech in Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton told the story of a supporter named Florence Steen, who passed away last Sunday. The 88-year-old South Dakotan had just voted for Clinton by absentee ballot, ahead of the state's June 3 primary. It's a touching story, but will her vote still count?

No. As dictated by a 2001 state law, the South Dakota Department of Health is responsible for furnishing the county auditors with a list of registered voters who have died each month. This information is used to update the state's electronic voter-registration file, which was created by a different 2001 law. Absentee ballots are collected by county auditors and remain sealed until the election, so if an absentee voter dies prior to the election, then her ballot is never opened.

(Hat tip: Election Law Blog)

Due to the trend toward more early and absentee voting, I bet more states will be thinking about this issue in coming years. By the way, I've just set the world record for most consecutive blog posts on South Dakota election law (2).

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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