South Dakota Elections Board backs online voter registration in 2020

South Dakota News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Elections Board is giving its support to a bill that would allow voters to register online.

The Argus Leader reports that the board on Tuesday agreed unanimously to back the proposal from the secretary of state’s office in next year’s legislative session.

The secretary of state’s office also plans to seek a change to state law to remove voters’ birth year from the publicly accessible voter registration files, due to identity theft concerns.

And Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz is seeking legislative support for a pilot project in 2020 that would audit election equipment. Litz says it would increase voter confidence in results.

“If we have a randomly selected audit that says there’s a high degree of probability that the machines did it correctly, that’s in addition to the results that we already have,” Litz told the Elections Board.

The online registration proposal would allow people with a valid state driver’s license or ID card to register online. County auditors would verify the voter’s information. Right now, residents can register in person or at their county auditor’s office when they get or renew a driver’s license, and that would continue.

The online system would require the last five digits of a voter’s Social Security number as an added layer of security.

The proposal to remove voter birth years from voter registration files comes after the Department of Homeland Security asked the state to remove it because of identity theft risk.

The audit proposal comes as South Dakota is one of just seven states that don’t require any kind of audit of election equipment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Kea Warne, who oversees the state’s elections division, agreed with Litz that an audit that shows equipment was functioning correctly on Election Day would help boost public confidence.

“I think that’s really key right now in our current political climate,” she said.

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