In South Dakota’s 2016 general election, Oglala Lakota was the only county to vote yes to accept election-law revisions that the Legislature approved in the 2015 session in SB 69.
Voters blocked SB 69 from taking effect, with 98,657 marking yes and 242,113 choosing no.
The bill came from the State Board of Elections but became more and more Republican-flavored each step forward in the lawmaking process.
The Senate passed its heavily amended version 25-8 with only Republican support. The House of Representatives followed with more Republican amendments and tied 34-34 on the first try, before approving it 41-25.
After the Senate refused to concur with the House version, the conference committee’s report won final passage 50-16 in the House and 26-7 in the Senate.
How Republican was it? The ‘pro’ statement seeking a yes from voters came from House Republican leader Brian Gosch of Rapid City; he wrote, in part: “Republicans drafted this bill, Republican Legislators passed it, and a Republican Governor signed it.”
So much for supposed neutrality on a measure that still said in its sponsor line “at the request of the State Board of Elections.”
Even so, Oglala Lakota County, one of the most heavily Democratic neighborhoods in South Dakota, voted for it.
The county’s 2016 general election registration was 5,710 Democrats, 569 Republicans, 1,684 no-party or independents and 74 Libertarians, Constitutionalists and others.
Yet Oglala Lakota voters supported SB 69 becoming law, with 1,436 yes and 1,231 no.
Zero counties voted yes to accept the lower minimum wage for workers younger than 18. The statewide vote was 104,185 yes and 256,686 no.
SB 177 came from then-Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, in the 2015 session. The Senate voted 26-7 and the House 44-24 for it.
There were some other ballot measures in 2016 where Oglala Lakota didn’t match most of the rest of South Dakota.
Clay, Oglala Lakota and Todd counties supported constitutional amendment V that would have created non-partisan elections in South Dakota. Voters statewide rejected it, with 157,870 yes and 196,781 no.
Buffalo, Dewey, Oglala Lakota and Todd counties – all with concentrations of American Indian voters, and some of the most impoverished counties in the nation – supported constitutional amendment U that would have prohibited the Legislature from capping interest rates on loans. Voters statewide rejected it, with 130,627 yes and 224,876 no.
Clay, Oglala Lakota and Todd counties also voted for constitutional amendment T that would have taken legislative redistricting authority away from the Legislature and given the authority to a nine-member commission that would have been politically balanced with three Republicans, three Democrats and three other-registered voters. Voters statewide rejected it, with 149,942 yes and 198,982 no.