Election law: No campaigning near voting site

This sign, located outside Spearfish City Hall where early voting is underway, details campaigning laws in South Dakota. Pioneer photo by Mark Watson

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SPEARFISH — Early voting is already underway, both at your county’s auditor’s office as well as in some communities. And on Nov. 3, thousands of South Dakotans will head to the polls to cast their ballots.

At all polling places, both for early voting and on Election Day, state law mandates that no campaigning may be conducted within 100 feet of a polling place.

According to South Dakota Codified Law, “Except for sample ballots and materials and supplies necessary for the conduct of the election, no person may, in any polling place or within or on any building in which a polling place is located or within one hundred feet from any entrance leading into a polling place, maintain a campaign office or public address system, or use any communication or photographic device in a manner which repeatedly distracts, interrupts, or intimidates any voter or election worker, or display campaign posters, signs, or other campaign materials or by any like means solicit any votes for or against any person or political party or position on a question submitted or which may be submitted. No person may engage in any practice which interferes with the voter’s free access to the polls or disrupts the administration of the polling place, or conduct any petition signature gathering, on the day of an election, within one hundred feet of a polling place.”

A sign outside of Spearfish City Hall reads that even clothing, buttons, and stickers of a political nature are prohibited.

So the Pioneer posed the question to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, “Does this mean that someone, wearing a Trump hat as an example, who simply wants to go in and vote is not permitted to do such?”

“Yes, you are correct.  There cannot be any type of campaign material within 100 feet of every entrance into the polling place,” said Rachel Soulek, Help America Vote Act coordinator and public information specialist with the Secretary of State’s office. “In your example, the poll workers will ask that voter to remove the hat.”

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