Election Websites: South Dakota

Election Websites: South Dakota

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Researchers assessed state election websites for the Pew Center on the States between May-November 2010, using detailed criteria evaluating the content, lookup tools, and usability. Websites may have changed since they were assessed. See methodology (PDF). 

Strengths include:

  • Multipurpose lookup tool, called the “Voter Information Portal,” that allows voters to check their registration and absentee ballot status, access a sample ballot, find their polling place, and obtain information about their county election officials.
  • Precinct-level election returns provided in HTML. On other states' websites, this information is typically available only in Excel or PDF, if at all.
  • Strong site privacy protections, including a secure server and a clearly explained privacy policy.
  • Simple, easy-to-read website.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Provide information about the circumstances under which voters need to update their registration (42 states offer).
  • Offer registration information for college students (36 states offer), hospitalized voters (27 offer), and those living in long-term-care facilities (25 offer).
  • Provide a toll-free number for the state election office (40 states offer) or a designated help/hotline (30 offer).
  • Offer the name of a state election officer who can assist voters (43 states offer).
  • Provide e-mail addresses for local election officials (42 states offer).
  • List links to local election officials' websites (34 states offer).
  • Provide a lookup tool for voters to check their provisional ballot status (19 states offer).
  • Ensure that the website search function works properly.

Noteworthy Feature: South Dakota's website includes current, comprehensive municipal and school election calendars, which most other states do not publish online.

Initial Quick Fix: Improve the usability and help voters locate some of the more obscure resources on the site by making sure its search engine provides relevant results.

Summary: South Dakota's website offers four out of five recommended lookup tools, scoring strongly in that category, but has lower scores for website content and usability.

www.sdsos.gov was assessed for content and lookup tools.

www.sdsos.gov/electionsvoteregistration/electionsvoteregistration_overview.shtm was assessed for usability.