In 23 states, the deadline to register to vote has already passed, but for South Dakota, that deadline is Oct. 19.
Addison Miller, director of Get Out the Yote — a student organization encouraging USD students who can claim residence in Clay County to register in South Dakota — said the organization seeks to work against election systems that can make it difficult for students to have their voices heard.
South Dakota has consistently voted for the Republican candidate at the presidential level since 1964, and without their state of residence being considered a swing state, Miller said while students might not feel as motivated to turn out at the polls, it’s important for them to express their voices to change that.
“Change doesn’t happen all at once. You can’t break into swing state territory without voting in the first place,” Miller said. “Because almost every swing state today was a red or blue state at one point.”
Iowa and Ohio, once considered swing states, have moved more strongly towards Republican candidates in recent years. In 2016, Iowa voted 12 points more Republican than the country overall, and Ohio 10 points. On the other side, Colorado and Virginia have started voting more reliably Democratic, each about three points more than the country overall in 2016. However, Miller said that voting isn’t just about presidential candidates.
“There are also a number of down-ballot races this year,” Miller said. “For example, South Dakota could make history this year by legalizing recreational and medical marijuana.”
Constitutional Amendment A would legalize recreational marijuana in the state of South Dakota, while Initiated Measure 26 would legalize medical marijuana. Miller said that despite South Dakota being considered a red state, polling has shown strong support for both ballot measures.
The Clay County auditor’s office provided Get Out the Yote with 2200 voter registration forms at the start of the semester. Miller said that their biggest single day delivery of signed forms to the courthouse was 50 forms.
“The Clay County auditor’s office did say that they’ve seen a very high increase in voter registration this year,” Miller said. “They called it crazy.”
Even if students are not from South Dakota, Miller said they can still register to vote here, as long as they are or will be 18 years old before Nov. 3 and have a mailing address in Clay County.
“College students are the only people who can use dual residency in the state of South Dakota, and we should be using that,” Miller said. “Because we do live here, we deserve to have a say here.”
For students who want to get registered in Clay County before the deadline is Monday, Miller said they should get in contact with Get Out the Yote if they need assistance.
“We’ll bring the forms to you, we’ll take them to the courthouse,” Miller said. “All you gotta do is sign them.”