Can Independents Vote In South Dakota? The Rules Are A Little Tricky
June 7 is poised to be the deciding day for the Democratic presidential nomination; less is at stake on the Republican side, as Donald Trump needs only about one-third of the delegates available on that day, and he's the only candidate actively running. Most eyes are on California, the state with the most delegates up for grabs. But it's not the only state where voters are hitting the polls — South Dakota will join California and several other states in having its say. Can independents vote in South Dakota?
The answer depends on which party primary you're talking about. The Democratic Party runs a hybrid primary in South Dakota, meaning that both unaffiliated (independent) voters and registered Democrats can cast their ballots, but people who are registered Republicans cannot, Open Primaries explained. The Republican Party, on the other hand, holds a closed primary in South Dakota, meaning only registered Republicans may participate.
Independents who would like to vote in the closed Republican primary would have needed to change their affiliation 15 days prior to the election, so they are out of luck if they haven't done so. The same goes for registered Republicans who would like to vote in the Democratic primary, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State website.
Another useful thing for people who wish to vote in South Dakota's primaries to know is that the state requires photo identification — kind of. The National Conference of State Legislatures explained that voters are expected to present an accepted form of photo ID, including a state-issued license or non-driver identification card, tribal card, student ID card, or passport containing a photo. If you don't have one of these forms of identification at the polls, you'll be asked to sign an affidavit containing your name and address. You'll still be able to vote, but it'll require the extra affidavit step. If you want to avoid any confusion or delays at the polling station, bring a photo ID if possible.
Of the 303 Republican delegates available on June 7, South Dakota has 29 of them. On the Democratic side, 20 of the day's 694 pledged delegates will come from the state. Though South Dakota isn't in a position to be a game-changer on Tuesday, that won't deter voters who are eager to make their preferences for president known. Independents wishing to express support for either Clinton or Sanders may do so, though those looking to vote in the Republican primary won't be able to.