Even Small Red States Have Election Integrity Problems

A look at South Dakota's election integrity report
August 22, 2022 Updated: August 23, 2022

Commentary

Election integrity remains a key issue among voters going into 2022. A Rasmussen Reports national survey in July found that 52 percent of likely U.S. voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, while 50 percent think it is at least somewhat likely there will be widespread cheating that will affect the outcome of the midterm elections.

Those sentiments have been fortified with continuing reports of election integrity problems in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, as well as the documentary “2000 Mules” that was produced by True The Vote, a national organization whose mission is “to train citizens to protect election integrity at the polls, and to help protect all voters’ rights.”

Much of the recent reporting on election integrity is the result of volunteer citizens groups in the various states conducting their own investigations, as well as the canvassing of voters in their counties and states to verify voter registration rolls and that votes counted during the primary, general, and special elections were cast by authorized voters. One such organization in South Dakota has recently completed and compiled election integrity-related statistics from the November 2020 general election.

A citizens volunteer organization, South Dakota Canvassing Group, has presented its analysis of the 2020 elections to the South Dakota Secretary of State (SoS) and county auditors for the purpose of stimulating action to update the voter rolls before the November midterm election by removing voters who are deceased, moved to another location, or been inactive for two general elections.

Here are some of the findings from its analysis.

While the election was certified on Nov. 10, 2020, the official SoS website showed the total votes cast shifting upwards and downwards at periodic times through Dec. 29, 2021. In addition, the official tabulation posted on April 2, 2021, showed a peculiar discrepancy: 427,529 ballots were cast in the state while 422,609 ballots were reported to have been cast by county.

Epoch Times Photo
U.S. Congressman for South Dakota, Dusty Johnson and Gov. Kristi Noem place yard signs in a Sioux Falls neighborhood on June 4, 2022. (Jann Falkenstern/The Epoch Times)

A total of 4,379 ballots cast in 2020 could not be connected to a registered voter.

While voter registration ended on Oct. 19, 2020, which was 15 days before the election in accordance with South Dakota law, registration analysis resulted in the identification of the following discrepancies:

  • 163 voters registered to vote after Nov. 3.
  • 552 voters registered on Nov. 3 of whom 49 voted in the election.
  • 260 voters registered between Oct. 20 and Nov. 3.
  • 11 voters voted twice.
  • 256 voters were over 120 years old.

An analysis of official voter rolls from the election that were revised and updated on Dec. 28, 2021, resulted in the identification of the following discrepancies:

  • 146 new voters who voted on Nov. 3 but were not previously recorded.
  • 601 voter records removed.
  • 36 new voters registered between Sept. 22 and Dec. 21, 2021, who voted in the Nov. 3, 2020 election.
  • 18 blank records of voters who voted on Nov. 3.

South Dakota law allows people living in RVs throughout the year to register and vote in South Dakota through mail-forwarding companies that operate in the state. Their registered South Dakota mailing address would be that of the mail-forwarding company in the state, which would forward their mail to their designated out-of-state addresses.

The following statistics were collected that indicated potential problems. Of the 10,388 votes recorded from five different mail-forwarding companies:

  • 1,113 voters had non-military out-of-country addresses in Poland, South Korea, Thailand, France, Ireland, etc.
  • 1,893 votes were recorded from campground, hotel, and motel addresses.
  • 328 votes were recorded from invalid addresses with no street address listed.
  • 150 votes were recorded from the addresses of police stations, non-profit organizations, government buildings, and Walmart.

Were all of these people at these various out-of-state addresses really authorized voters?

South Dakota Canvassing also conducted door-to-door voter canvassing in the three largest counties by population in the state—Minnehaha, Lincoln, and Pennington—on Feb. 5 and on Mar. 15. The following discrepancies were noted:

  • 361 total houses were reached in the three counties.
  • 96 percent of those contacted on Feb. 5 had voter roll discrepancies.
  • 92 percent of those contacted voters on March 15 had voter roll discrepancies.
  • 4 homes were vacant.

Lastly, the following information was provided relating to South Dakota’s use of absentee ballot drop boxes during the 2020 general election:

  • 38 of South Dakota’s 66 counties used ballot drop boxes to collect ballots during the election.
  • 29 counties monitored the drop boxes with video footage.
  • While drop box video is election material and, like other election materials, must be kept for 22 months in accordance with federal law, no counties in South Dakota kept the video footage.

South Dakota is a relatively small state with just over 901,000 residents. Its relatively small size makes the task of managing elections considerably easier than in large states like California, New York, and Florida. Even so, it is clear that South Dakota has some work to do on election integrity.

What might a citizens canvassing group find in your state?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.