Chris Nelson

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Chris Nelson is the Secretary of State for South Dakota


In South Dakota, Secretary of State Chris Nelson is facing lawsuits from Lakota tribes for posting erroneous warning signs at polling places during the June 1 special election for Congress.

Jacqueline Johnson of the National Congress of American Indians told the New York Times that several ballot locations displayed signs reading “No ID, no vote.”

Many would-be voters went home feeling intimidated by election monitors who did not inform them of their right to complete an affidavit, which, even with no ID, would allow them to cast a ballot. (HAVA allows for provisional ballots for voters who don’t provide ID or fill out an affidavit, these are much more likely to be disqualified than regular ballots.)

The ploy apparently worked. Fewer Lakota turned out to vote than in 2002, when counties with high percentages of Indians saw participation rates soar in a Senate brawl in which the White House jumped in to oust Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson.

In a dramatic 11th-hour turn, those counties were among the last to report their totals, and their margins reversed a small lead for Republican John Thune and gave Johnson a narrow win.


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