AP NEWS

South Dakota House approves bill to cut early voting window

February 22, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota House narrowly approved a bill Thursday to cut the time allowed for early voting in the state.

Representatives voted 36-33 for the bill, the minimum margin required for it to advance. The measure would reduce the absentee voting window from 46 days to 32 days.

House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, the bill’s sponsor, said some early voters have told him they regret going early because they say most information comes out in the final weeks before Election Day.

“I believe in an informed electorate,” Qualm said. “People will go vote if they want to vote, and I don’t see how this hinders anybody at all.”

Democratic Rep. Kelly Sullivan, an opponent, said officials need to give people every opportunity they can to vote. Republican Rep. Jean Hunhoff said the state should stay at 46 days.

“We want to encourage people to vote,” Sullivan said.

The average beginning point for early voting is 22 days prior to an election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The proposal now heads to the Senate. Republican Gov. Kristi Noem last week didn’t offer a position on the bill.

“We want to make sure everybody gets the chance to vote, so when it gets to my desk we’ll see what the debate has brought apart,” Noem said.