South Dakota

Upcoming Elections

Oct. 19, 2020 – Voter Registration Deadline

For more information, visit the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Website.

Voting in South Dakota

When You Can Vote

Election Day

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time on Election Day.

South Dakota does not have formal early voting at the polls.  However, registered voters can vote in-person once Absentee Voting begins at their County Auditor’s office by bringing along a valid photo identification card (ID). If a voter does not have a photo ID, they must be given the option to sign a personal identification affidavit and vote a regular ballot.

Absentee voting opens 46 days prior to the election, i.e., September 18, 2020 for the November 3, 2020 General Election. For more information see here.

Where You Can Vote

How to Find Your Polling Place

Visit the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal.

Registering to Vote

Registration Deadlines: 

Residents of South Dakota must fill out a voter registration form. The forms must be sent to, and received by, the resident’s County Auditor 15 days before an election (i.e. October 19, 2020 for the 2020 general election).  IMPORTANT: A postmark before October 19, 2020 is not in and of itself sufficient to meet the submission deadline. Accordingly, if a resident decides to mail the voter registration form, he/she must mail the form with enough time for it to be received by the resident’s County Auditor by October 19, 2020.  

How to Check Your Registration: Use South Dakota Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register in South Dakota, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Reside in South Dakota;
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before Election Day;
  • Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction, which includes imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary (however, see the section below headed “If You Have A Felony Conviction” for important additional criteria about which individuals with felony convictions may have their right to register and vote reinstated, including criteria which varies for individuals with dates of conviction on or after July 1, 2012 and individuals with dates of conviction on or before June 30, 2012); and
  • Not judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.

How to Register: South Dakota residents may register in person or by mail.

In Person

You may register to vote in person in any of the following ways:

  • When applying for or renewing your South Dakota driver’s license;
  • At the County Auditor’s office;
  • At the City Finance Office;
  • At Public assistance agencies providing food stamps, TANF or WIC;
  • At the Department of Human Services offices which provide assistance to the disabled; and
  • At Military recruitment offices.

By Mail

In order to register by mail, you must:

Identification Required for Registration: Voters may register to vote without identification, but they must provide a form of identification when they vote at the polls on Election Day.

Identification Requirements

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Valid forms of ID are:

  • South Dakota driver’s license or non-driver ID card;
  • United States government photo ID (valid U.S. passport, or an identification card issued by and agency of the United States government, is acceptable);
  • Tribal ID, including a photo; and
  • Current student photo ID issued by a South Dakota high school or an accredited institution of higher education, including a university, college or technical school  located in South Dakota.

Without one of these forms of identification, a voter must be given the opportunity to sign a personal ID affidavit confirming their name and address when voting.

There is one primary exception to the photo identification requirement:

  • A voter who is a member of the military and stationed abroad or who resides overseas eligible to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is not required to provide ID when voting an absentee ballot.

There is no requirement for a voter’s registration address to match the address on their ID.

If You Have Moved Within Your State

Any person whose name appears on the inactive registration list at a precinct, may vote in any election following completion of an affirmation of the person’s address in South Dakota.  If the voter has moved to a new address within South Dakota, the affirmation serves as a new registration.

Voting Early & by Absentee Ballot

South Dakota does not have formal early voting at the polls, but voters who qualify for absentee voting may vote absentee in person, by mail, or through an authorized messenger, starting 46 days prior to the election, i.e., September 18, 2020 for the November 3, 2020 General Election. Also see section headed  “When You Can Vote” above and here.

Registered voters can vote in-person once Absentee Voting begins at their County Auditor’s office by bringing along a valid photo identification card (ID). If a voter does not have a photo ID, they must be given the option to sign a personal identification affidavit and vote a regular ballot. 

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Any registered voter may vote absentee in South Dakota. 

  • Voters must complete and submit a signed absentee ballot application to the county auditor of the county in which he/she is registered to vote; 
  • The application must include a copy of one of the accepted forms of ID; or
  • The voter’s signature must be notarized, except for overseas and stateside military, overseas citizens, or a spouse or dependent of the same.

General Rules and Deadlines

  • An absentee ballot application must be turned in no later than 5 PM the day before the election, i.e., Monday, November 2, 2020 for the 2020 General Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
  • If an absentee ballot is delivered to a polling place after the polls are closed, the absentee ballot will not be counted nor opened. 
  • An application for absentee ballot is only good for the calendar year in which it is signed.

Sickness/Disability Voting

If a qualified voter is unable to attend his or her polling place on Election Day because of confinement due to sickness or disability, he/she may request an absentee ballot in writing by naming an authorized messenger who will deliver the ballot to him/her from the County Election Official and then delivers the marked ballot to the County Election Official. 

  • A qualified confined voter may still apply to vote through an authorized messenger even after the absentee deadline. 
  • However all such applications are due no later than 3 pm on Election Day, i.e., November 3, 2020.
If You are in the Military or are an Overseas Voter

Members of the military and overseas citizens who are unable to attend a polling place in person on Election Day may obtain an absentee ballot.  

Under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), members of the military and overseas citizens are allowed to submit their application for absentee ballot by fax or email. 

Members of the Military

  • Military members who possess a current, valid South Dakota Driver’s License may use the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Electronic Voter Registration Portal to request an absentee ballot. 
  • For military members without a current, valid South Dakota driver’s license, and for a complete overview of South Dakota’s absentee voting process for members of the military, visit here.

Overseas Citizen Voter

  1. Download and fill out a voter registration form;
  2. Download and fill out an absentee ballot request form (including an email address in box #8 in order to receive the ballet via email);
  3. Once received, the ballot should be printed and filled out;
  4. The signed and completed registration and ballot request forms (originals only) should be sent to the voter’s County Auditor.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

  • The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by all UOCAVA voters who have requested an absentee ballot, but who have not received it in a timely manner. If a voter has not received an absentee ballot that was requested, the voter should visit the FVAP’s South Dakota-specific FWAB page.  
  • A FWAB returned to the County Election Official will be handled and counted the same way as an absentee ballot cast on an official absentee ballot.
If You Have a Felony Conviction

Persons convicted of a felony on or after July 1, 2012:

  • A person convicted of a felony in either federal or state court on or after July 1, 2012 loses the right to vote. 
  • A person so disqualified becomes eligible to register to vote upon completion of his or her entire sentence, including completion of probation, parole, restitution; including all fines and fees. 
  • A person who receives a suspended imposition of sentence does not lose the right to vote.

Persons convicted of a felony on or before June 30, 2012:

For persons convicted of a felony in federal court on or before June 30, 2012, the following rules apply:

  • Individuals who are sentenced only to probation retain the right to vote.
  • Individuals who are sentenced only to pay a fine or restitution retain the right to vote.
  • Individuals who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment lose the right to vote for as long as the individual is serving a term of imprisonment, including supervised release. 

For persons convicted of a felony in state court on or before June 30, 2012, the following rules apply:

  • Individuals who are sentenced only to probation retain the right to vote.  A sentence of probation only may include fines, fees, restitution and other conditions associated with the sentence of probation.
  • Individuals who are sentenced only to pay a fine or restitution retain the right to vote. 
  • Individuals who receive a suspended imposition of sentence retain the right to vote.
  • Individuals who receive a suspended execution of sentence to the adult state penitentiary system lose the right to vote during the term of the suspended sentence. (Note: A “suspended execution of sentence” is a different action than a “suspended imposition of sentence.”)  
  • Individuals who receive a sentence to the adult state penitentiary system lose the right to vote during the term of imprisonment.  The loss of voting rights continues as long as the individual is physically incarcerated or on parole. 
  • Juveniles adjudicated as delinquent or as a child in need of supervision and sentenced to incarceration in a juvenile detention facility retain the right to vote once they have reached eighteen years of age.
Election Protection Materials

Questions about voting in South Dakota?

Contact Us