South Dakota settles with tribes to ensure voting rights

September 8, 2022

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota secretary of state will implement a voting rights coordinator and train state agencies to comply with federal voting rights laws as part of a settlement with two Native American tribes.

The settlement comes after U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol of South Dakota in May sided with two tribes, the Rosebud Sioux and the Oglala Sioux, and the Lakota People’s Law Project in a lawsuit accusing the secretary of state of not adhering to the National Voter Registration Act.

The judge ruled that the state’s agencies didn’t provide enough opportunities to register to vote or update voter registration information at places such as motor vehicle and public assistance offices in areas near Native American reservations. The law requires the agencies to help people register to vote at such offices, including ones that provide public assistance or serve people with disabilities.

The secretary of state’s office also agreed to pay $625,000 in attorney’s fees to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

“This agreement requires South Dakota establish training and accountability mechanisms so voters, including Native voters, actually receive the legally required opportunities to register to vote,” Oglala Sioux Tribe President Kevin Killer said in a statement.