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SD Freedom Caucus Press-Release and Remote Meeting Link
Election Meeting in Pierre Friday September 2, 2022 at 1pm

Dear County Auditor

Thank you for expressing your interest to participate in the efforts of South Dakota citizens’, their representatives, and our Governor to preserve the integrity of our public elections, by ensuring transparency and oversight by the public in our elections, as they were intended.

The invitation we received from the County Auditors to provide the people’s representatives with information regarding the election speaks to the very heart of our request to Governor Noem and the Attorney General, namely that members of our citizenry have been denied public records of their election and how such election was conducted, on the basis of protecting private, special interests instead of the people’s, which as elected officials we swore to uphold.

Whether or not issues or incidents occurred in the previous elections is immaterial to our request to uphold the inherent right of the citizens of our great state of South Dakota to oversee their elections. As we originally stated the issue at hand, and our Governor has publicly agreed with, we are proud of the right of our people to oversee their government and elections, which is “embodied in our laws allowing for the inspection of nearly every step of our elections while still maintaining the secrecy of individual ballots,” and is seemingly being denied by those officials we have entrusted with this sacred duty.

We are pleased to see that Governor Noem supports our efforts, and her administration will be assisting us in the fight for free, fair and transparent elections in South Dakota, as they are “actively researching potential legislation for the upcoming legislative session.”

That is why we have included the Governor and Attorney General in our response to you here today. Governor Noem recognized that inherent right of our citizens to oversee their elections and provided you and your colleagues a clear direction when she stated that “all aspects of state and local government in South Dakota would do well to conduct our elections in a transparent fashion.” We too would encourage you to take heed of our Governor’s wise and prudent advice.

That is why we must decline your request to attend the county auditors’ invitation only event, out of the view and inaccessible to the general public, and after the stated deadline for our request for the preservation of our election records has passed, on behalf of our citizens.

However, we would invite the various County Auditors of our state to attend a public informational meeting at our State Capitol before September 3rd where we, as the people’s representatives, and with an open invitation to the Governor to help us address issues or concerns any of our elected county public officials may have in serving the public’s interest and right in overseeing their elections at that time. We would appreciate you considering joining us in-person or remotely via Microsoft Teams on Friday, September 2nd, at 1 pm at the State Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota.

In addition, we would welcome the chance to hear from Governor Noem on her vision to strengthen our elections, and to restore the trust and transparency in the process as she’s alluded to. Like our Governor, we will work diligently to hold our elections to a higher standard than what previous administrations and their Secretaries of State have, and to restore the trust of the public in their elections.

We look forward to the timely response to our invitation and hope our County Auditors will join us in working for the people of South Dakota.

Sincerely,

South Dakota Freedom Caucus

REMOTE MEETING LINK HERE.



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Post Date: 2022-09-01 15:25:02Last Update: 2022-09-02 12:53:30

    


SD Republican Party Leaders Attempt To Terminate Voting Rights Ahead of Next Convention
Division is growing in the South Dakota Republican party

UPDATED* September 01, 2022 By Breeauna Sagdal

A recent audio recording has been sent to The Dakota Leader of an SDGOP (South Dakota Republican Party) meeting, which occurred on August 27, 2022. The Republican party's Central Committee is apparently upset about recent shake-ups that took place during the Convention, held earlier this summer.

Secretary of State, Steve Barnett was replaced as the republican nomination for the office, going into the November general election. In addition, Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, and Gov. Noem's choice for Attorney General, Marty Jackley, narrowly won their nominations. This has many within the current establishment republican party, frustrated and looking for ways around the party's by-laws.

Currently, the South Dakota republican party hosts a convention, once every two years, in which the by-laws read

"2. Delegates

A. County Delegation: The delegates to the state convention shall consist of the following from each county:
  1. The county chairman, county vice chairman, county secretary, county treasurer, state committeeman and state committeewoman;
  2. Not to exceed three at-large delegates elected in the primary election preceding the convention, who need not be members of their County Central Committee but must be registered Republican voters in their county; and
  3. Each precinct committeeman and precinct committeewoman.
Of these by-laws, #3 is what is being proposed for termination, "each precinct committeeman or precinct committeewoman." Precinct Committee People, also known as delegates, nominate candidates. Nominations determine who will run in the general election for the state-wide constitutional offices. The Central Committee is made-up of each county's executive leadership, along with the state party leaders, such as chair Dan Lederman.

Ahead of the last convention, the republican party saw a large increase of grassroots involvement, where many new Committeemen and women were elected as delegates to the convention. The new PCPs, fed-up with the current status quo, attempted to nominate new candidates for the November general election. The status quo on the other hand, feels frustrated that these efforts may hurt the party going into the general election.

Criticism has been heard far and wide, regarding "candidate quality," with many stating the grass-root selections are too "far-right." Grassroots efforts have been growing all over the country. In South Dakota, these efforts are not as wide-spread as in other states. However, those who feel the current party is too moderate, or too "left-leaning," are beginning to organize in ways that are upsetting to the current power structure.

As more kitchen table voters take a hands-on role in civics, and most importantly the dominate republican party, those currently in power are looking to change the rules and stem, or outright prevent, losing control.
On August 27, 2022, certain leaders within the SDGOP Central Committee proposed terminating the voting rights of duly elected Committee People, at all future conventions.





Editor's Note- We apologize that a former version misstated the organizational structure of the party. A huge thank you to our audience for quickly notifying us of corrections, and helping our writers to understand important details. If you spot a correction that needs to be made, please contact us at Editor@dakotaleader.com. Thank you



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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor At Large

Post Date: 2022-09-01 08:36:14Last Update: 2022-09-01 21:13:25

    


Lack of Competition and Increasing Food Prices Impact Rural South Dakota
Health Outcomes Suffer As A Result of Rising Food Costs, Especially in Small Towns Across South Dakota

In many smaller towns across South Dakota, residents have one grocery store to shop at. Due to internal politics and pressure on various City Councils to prevent competition in the marketplace, those unable to travel long distances to grocery shop are suffering both financially and health wise.

According to a recent University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute study, Lake County South Dakota ranks as the healthiest county in South Dakota. However, Lake County also has a 29% obesity rate compared to the least healthiest counties nation-wide at a 30% obesity rate. South Dakota in general has a 33% obesity rate, higher than the national average.

One reason for this, according to the study, is access to affordable and quality food. While Lake County is a popular summer destination for its many lakes, and has 60% access to physical activities, some of the smaller towns within Lake County have only one grocery store.

A study conducted by Oxford University, finds that price level for food products falls with city size.

"This article uses detailed barcode data on purchase transactions by households in 49 U.S. cities to calculate the first theoretically founded urban price index. In doing so, we overcome a large number of problems that have plagued spatial price index measurement. We identify two important sources of bias. Heterogeneity bias arises from comparing different goods in different locations, and variety bias arises from not correcting for the fact that some goods are unavailable in some locations. Eliminating heterogeneity bias causes 97% of the variance in the price level of food products across cities to disappear relative to a conventional index. Eliminating both biases reverses the common finding that prices tend to be higher in larger cities. Instead, we find that price level for food products falls with city size."

The Dakota Leader conducted a sample basket of the same items from The Madison, SD Sunshine Foods (the only grocery store in Lake County's city of Madison) against Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (the nearest large city). The price variation for 21 items was 84.31 to a respective 77.88. While a $6.43 difference might not seem like a big deal for two meals, milk and some breakfast items, the largest cost disparity came in the form of fresh produce. For example, at the Madison Sunshine each apple is priced at .75 cents, as opposed to the Wal-Mart where apples are 2.50 per pound, or approximately .62 each. Similarly, we found that fresh dairy items like yogurt, milk and creamer were nearly double the cost at the small town grocery store.

Various factors are impacting food costs today, from fuel prices to supply chain interruptions. However, one of the largest impacts according to researchers, is competition. When a town only has one grocery store, items tend to be more expensive, limiting the ability of many to purchase fresh produce and opt for healthier items. Instead, people tend to buy more cost-effective, shelf-stable items and forgo the fresh produce, if its even available.

According to
data recently released by the Federal Reserve, “supply chains remain disrupted, in some cases to an even greater degree than earlier in the pandemic.”

Forbes recently reported that, "the Covid shutdown wiped out the advantages of just-in-time inventory management, so some companies are opting for “just-in-case” inventory, ordering further ahead than usual," according to a report on DigitalCommerce360.com, an ecommerce media platform.

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This is causing fresh food items like produce, to become more expensive for consumers in general. However, in smaller towns where prices can differ drastically, it's becoming a health and equity issue according to Policy Matters. "Recent research has found that in the United States, limited access to healthy food is associated with a lower consumption of fruits and vegetables, and a higher probability of obesity and other dietary related health problems. Areas with limited food access and low average incomes are often referred to as food deserts."

The USDA defines a food desert by low-income and low access. The federal government is now creating grants to assist with grocery store start-ups, and even mobile food trucks.

As Medicaid Expansion comes to the November ballot, lawmakers are requesting more information on the costs of healthcare in South Dakota, and what is driving various metrics of health outcomes. Under
Universal Healthcare, the government could limit the amount of sugar obese, and diabetic people intake per month, or implement food bans in general. Policies such as this, could go a long ways towards helping to increase overall health outcomes, according to the CDC "Healthy People 2030" framework. However, the issue of equitable access to healthy foods, would still remain an issue to be solved.



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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor At Large

Post Date: 2022-08-31 13:04:15Last Update: 2022-08-31 11:48:41

    


Judge Orders Counties to Preserve Election Data
A Victory For South Dakota Residents and Lawmakers

Wednesday August 31, 2022 By Breeauna Sagdal

Circuit Court Judge John Pekas, ordered today that County Auditors must preserve the Vote Cast Records, and Ballot Drives from the 2020 federal election. The materials in question, were set to be destroyed this Friday September 02, 2022, 22 months after the last federal election. The order comes after residents across the state filed public records records, that have been denied in every county.

Recently, County Auditors have announced they would be hosting a private informational meeting with lawmakers who might misunderstand their role as auditors. In response, The South Dakota Freedom Caucus announced they would host their own informational meeting at the Capitol for the public and auditors alike. Chairman of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus, Representative Aaron Aylward (R-Harrisburg) stated their support for election integrity has nothing to do with former President Trump, or concerns for the 2020 election.

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Aylward says his caucus's main focus is keeping public records, public.

“Whether or not issues or incidents occurred in the previous elections is immaterial to our request to uphold the inherent right of the citizens of our great state of South Dakota to oversee their elections,” a statement from the Freedom Caucus reads.

This is part of an on-going story, covered by The Dakota Leader. Please see yesterday's article regarding Gov. Noem's response to a letter sent by South Dakota state Lawmakers.



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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-31 11:48:41Last Update: 2022-08-31 13:36:14

    


Gov. Noem Responds to Letter from SD Lawmakers



Governor Noem responded to a request from approximately one-third of South Dakota's state lawmakers Monday, August 29, 2022. As previously reported by The Dakota Leader, a bicameral call-to-action was drafted by the South Dakota Freedom Caucus, requesting that Gov. Noem, and acting Attorney General Mark Vargo intervene on behalf of South Dakota citizens, whose records' requests have been denied.

Ahead of the 2020 election, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) owned by Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg, donated $400 million dollars to Secretaries of State for ballot drop-boxes. The ballot drop-boxes were used in many states for the first-time, due to cited concerns over the possible transmission of COVID-19 during in-person voting. In exchange for allowing the drop boxes, counties were required to keep and maintain video surveillance of the drop-box sites for the twenty-two months following federal elections.

Last session, the South Dakota legislature made it illegal for the Secretary of State to take third party money, dubbed "Zuck Bucks," for election assistance. While many in the state legislature say it's a step in the right direction, many believe it doesn't go far enough to stop the use of drop-box sites.

Republicans, and some democrats contend that the ballot drop-boxes, and cash infusion by a third party, created an environment for ballot harvesting, and fraud. A concern further promulgated after the release of the documentary "2000 Mules," which allegedly shows illegal activity at drop-box sites. The documentary filmmakers obtained the video surveillance of drop-box sites from County Auditors who followed the law. However, whether or not these drop-boxes were actually recorded by South Dakota counties is one of the motivating factors for public records requests.

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Citizens of the state of South Dakota have been working toward transparency for over a year, in an attempt to uncover these videos, and create a post-election audit. According to federal law, September 2, 2022 marks the twenty-two month sunset date, where materials like the video surveillance of these drop-box sites, and the vote tabulation information can be destroyed.

Citizens and lawmakers alike, have expressed concerns that the counties might not have recorded the drop-box sites as required, after public records requests were all denied. After the first round of public records requests, County Auditors took additional measures like hiring outside legal counsel to prevent disclosure.

Gov. Noem in her response to The Freedom Caucus letter, has stated that her team is actively researching potential legislation for the upcoming legislative session, to "further guarantee free and fair election in South Dakota."

Chair of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus, Representative Aaron Aylward (R-Harrisburg) tells The Dakota Leader,

“I’m thankful for the letter that the Governor sent, yesterday, as it shows that this is an issue important to her. Myself, and many others, look forward to working with her on election law. However, the goal of the 24 legislators who signed the letter to the Governor and the AG, was to put pressure on the counties to release the publicly held information before it gets destroyed. I pray that more auditors decide to do the right thing before the end of the week!”



For those who have worked hard towards transparency, like Jessica Pollema of SD Canvassing, the response from Gov. Noem was a disappointment. Pollema tells TDL, "While Gov. Noem’s comments sound nice, she did not address the contents of the letter such as the preservation of records, ongoing investigations, and the release of the public records. Future legislation does not address the immediate need for intervention on these issues."



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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-30 10:19:50Last Update: 2022-08-30 14:04:15

    


Leaders of Industry Op-Ed- “Inflation Reduction Act Will Hinder EV Growth”
Dependance on lithium mining in America to qualify for subsidies, will further negatively impact the lithium supply chain for batteries and stagnate the mandated transition to EV’s.

After his mandate to transition to EV’s, President Joe Biden then signed The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that requires EVs to contain a battery pack and other parts built in North America with minerals mined or recycled in America. With the chance of strip mining for lithium in America being slim to nil, no EV’s will qualify for the tax credits in the IRA.

Biden’s goal of 50 percent EV sales by 2030 will test lithium supply chains and the economic strength of the American society to meet those projections without any subsidies to procure those vehicles.

While the race is on to produce more lithium in the United States as the supply chain for the major component of EV batteries, lithium, is already being compromised internationally. The following international dark clouds on the lithium supply chain may be a prelude to an American rejection of strip mining in the most environmentally regulated and controlled communities in the world: Due to potential fires, the FAA prohibites in checked baggage, spare (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. They must be carried with the passenger in carry-on baggage. Smoke and fire incidents involving lithium batteries can be mitigated by the cabin crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin.

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Since you’ve probably read about EV fires, here’s a site that keeps tabs just on the TESLA EV fires https://www.tesla-fire.com/, Tesla Fires as of 8/19/2022 were 97 confirmed cases and Fatalities Involving a Tesla Car Fire Count were 38. Shockingly, while the Feds are banning lithium batteries in checked luggage on planes due to potential fires, Biden is pushing them for vehicles.



The actions of the Biden government and the
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) divesting in fossil fuels movement are currently supportive of jumping onto the EV train, but Biden and the ESG’ers may be oblivious that EV’s have a very dark side of environmental atrocities, and the non-existing transparency of human rights abuses occurring in other countries, both of which are directly connected to the mining for the exotic minerals and metals that are required to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries.

The Pulitzer Prize nominated book 
“Clean Energy Exploitations - Helping Citizens Understand the Environmental and Humanity Abuses That Support Clean Energy," does an excellent job of discussing the lack of transparency to the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring in developing countries mining for those exotic minerals and metals to support the “green” movement. The subsidies to purchase EV’s are financial incentives to encourage further exploitations of yellow, brown, and black skin residents in developing countries. Are those subsidies ethical?

Amid tougher emissions regulations worldwide, established automakers are racing to add more EVs to their lineup. A Reuters analysis found that global automakers such as Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Fiat, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Daimler, and Chrysler plan to spend a combined U.S. $300 billion on EVs over the next decade as car companies are betting big on EV’s. Most of the EV’s will be manufactured in foreign countries far removed from American ports.



China came from zero production in 1950, to 2019 where it now produces more cars than the USA, Japan, and India collectively. The 6-minute video of the automobile manufacturing “needle” shows how the foreign manufacturing dominance occurred over the that 69-year period.

Automobiles Manufactured Per Year




Bringing those foreign built cars to America may be an insurmountable insurance problem.
The Felicity Ace, a 650-foot-long cargo ship carrying hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of luxury cars sunk in March 2022. The salvage crew working on the burning ship said electric-vehicle batteries were part of the reason it was still aflame after several days. The estimated market value of the Felicity Ace was $24.5 million, while the total value of the 3965 vehicles could be over $500 million.

With potential fires from EV batteries in vehicles, who’s going to take the insurance responsibility for their safe passage from the foreign manufacturers to American ports, the cargo ships, or the manufacturers?

How dirty is lithium strip mining? Since the mineral contains dangerous substances, the mining process also contaminates the local water basins. Lithium extraction exposes the local ecosystems to poisoning and other related health problems. How many Americans want strip mining for lithium in their backyard to view the
environmental degradation from leach fields which are part of the extraction efforts?

The number of electric cars on the world’s roads at the 
end of 2021 was about 16.5 million, or just slightly more than one percent of the 1.4 billion vehicles in the world. With lithium production being setback internationally, EV growth will be hindered as locals’ revolt over lithium mining impacts on water supplies and environmental degradation in their communities.



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--By Ronald Stein Pulitzer Prize nominated author, and Policy advisor for The Heartland Institute on Energy

Post Date: 2022-08-29 08:55:41Last Update: 2022-08-27 10:41:14

    


Can Cities in South Dakota Adopt “Ranked Choice Voting”?
What is Ranked Choice Voting? Is it fair? Is it legal in S.D?

Ranked Choice Voting is a new idea being explored in several states currently. Ranked Choice is a form of voting that gives voters more direct democracy. Now, Ranked Choice Voting is being circulated through South Dakota, by those who favor the idea.

Former Attorney General Jason Ravsnborg, published written legal opinion 2022-01, in response to a special request by Janet Brekke, the former Chair of the Sioux Falls City Council. Brekke, on behalf of citizen lobbyist Jeanell Lust, asked the A.G to determine whether or not Ranked Choice Voting is legal for the City of Sioux Falls to implement, as a "home rule charter."

The purpose of Ranked Choice Voting, according to those who support such a method, is to "cancel out, and protect the voters from block voting." It allows voters to vote for their first, second, third and so on, choice of candidate regardless of party affiliation, or district.

Similar to current voting, if a candidate in the general election wins more than 50% of first-choice votes, they win the race outright. However, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, Ranked Choice eliminates the candidate with the least amount of first-place votes and then redistributes votes to the candidates with the most first and second place votes. Then the scores would be recalculated, over and over again, until one of the candidates finally won a majority as the second, third, or even fourth choice of voters.

In the end, a voter’s ballot might wind up being cast for the candidate he ranked far below his first choice. A candidate, for example, that the voter might have strong political objections to, and for whom they would not have voted for in a traditional voting system.

For example, during the 1992 Presidential election between Bill Clinton (D), George Bush Sr.(R), and third party Independent candidate Ross Perot, voters would have been asked to vote for all three candidates ranked by first, second and third choice. Being that Ross Perot only brought in 18.9% of the vote, he would have been eliminated under a Ranked Choice system, with his 19.7 million votes redistributed between his supporter's second choice candidate. If, for example, 10 million people had Bill Clinton as their second choice, and the other 9.7 million had George Bush Sr. as their second choice, those votes would have been redistributed towards the overall totals for Clinton and Bush.

Those in favor of ranked choice, argue that downed ballot candidates dilute the voting power of one partisan candidate over the other. In a ranked choice setting, candidates would instead benefit from voters who backed a third party candidate, getting those votes if the third party didn't get the majority vote. However, others argue that this is another tactic by reformists, to rig the system and disenfranchise voters.

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In 2016, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill to expand ranked choice voting in his state, saying it was “overly complicated, confusing” and “deprives voters of genuinely informed choice.” Brown added that such a system would present many opportunities to rig the electoral system.

In 2018, the first-ever general election for federal office in our nation’s history was decided by Ranked Choice Voting in the Second Congressional District of Maine. Jared Golden (D) was declared the eventual winner, even though incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) received more votes in the first round. There were two additional candidates in the race, Tiffany Bond and William Hoar. However, the Maine Secretary of State, Matt Dunlop, “exhausted” or threw out a total of 14,076 ballots of voters who had not ranked all of the candidates. see Baber v. Dunlap

A study published in 2015, reviewed 600,000 votes cast using ranked choice voting in four local elections in Washington State and California. The study found that “the winner in all four elections receive[d] less than a majority of the total votes cast.” This is due to a phenomenon known as "ballot exhaustion," where voters only list their top two or three candidates, particularly when there are candidates on the ballot for whom they would never even consider voting. Thus, if a voter only ranks two of the five candidates and those two are eliminated in the first and second rounds of tabulation, their choices will not be considered in the remaining rounds of tabulation. This ballot exhaustion leads to candidates being elected who were not the first choice of a majority of voters, but only a majority of “all valid votes in the final round of tallying.” Thus, “it is possible that the winning candidate will fall short of an actual majority,” eliminating the influence of many voters over the final outcome.

As of July 2022, 55 cities, counties, and states are projected to use RCV for all voters in their next election. These jurisdictions are home to over 11 million voters, and include 2 states, 1 county, and 52 cities. In addition, military and overseas voters from six states are set to cast RCV ballots in the next federal election runoff.

In Alaska, voters approved a measure titled "Alaska Better Elections Implementation," as a statewide method of conducting public elections. As of August 23, 2022, the process of electing a replacement for Congressman Don Young's term (Alaska's lone U.S House Seat) will not be concluded until election officials finalize the transitioning vote counts from the other candidates to the remaining candidates, until 50% plus-one can be determined.

As it takes extra time to go down each ballot and reapply votes,
it's possible Alaskan voters will not know who won the special House election for awhile. On election night, and for the 15 days after, the state will only report first-choice results. If none of the three candidates, running to serve the remainder of Young's term have exceeded the 50% threshold, the state will apply the ranked choices, eliminating the last-place candidate and redistributing their ballots. State officials have said they will report the results on, or about Aug. 31, nearly two weeks after the election date.

The topic of Ranked Choice Voting has been brought up in South Dakota on numerous occasions. Most recently, Jeanell Lust of Sioux Falls brought the issue before the City Council's Charter Revision Commission on December 8, 2021, asking that it be placed on the agenda.

As part of her proponent testimony, Lust highlighted the fact that the city is a "home rule charter" form of government, which allows the executive, and legislative branch to adopt any such legislation it deems necessary, in order to self govern. In Lust's expressed opinion, the law allows the city to adopt Ranked Choice, because by law the people have the right to 'express' themselves, and establish any such electoral method, that voters approve.

Lust went on to highlight the 2010 City Election, where Mike Huether and Kermit Staggers did not get more than 26% of the vote, while four other candidates shared in the remaining balance, providing evidence that none of the candidates had a clear majority. She also pointed out that run-off elections can cost city residents up to $80,000 dollars per occurrence. Commissioner Carl Zylstra inquired about previous research done on this topic and whether or not state law already addressed ranked choice voting in the past. Soon after, Commissioners quickly voted to not move forward with the proposal, electing instead to ask the Attorney General for a legal opinion.

On May 04, 2022, that legal opinion was issued.

"In your response to your inquiry, I find that both ranked choice voting and approval voting present electoral systems that lead to the candidate with the highest number of votes – as cast according to the voting requirements of each system – declared the winner of the election. This is in accord with the provisions of SDCL 9-13-25. Further, I have determined that approval voting, as described in this opinion, does not conflict with state law concerning municipal elections found in SDCL 9-13-25 through 9-13-27.1. A home-rule-chartered municipality may adopt approval voting for its municipal elections. However, it is my opinion that ranked choice voting conflicts with the statutory requirements concerning runoff elections found in SDCL 9-13-26.1 and 9-13-27.1. I conclude that home-rule-chartered municipalities may not adopt ranked choice voting in that it conflicts with state law." - Legal Opinion #22-01



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--Mike Zitterich

Post Date: 2022-08-29 08:40:13Last Update: 2022-08-28 22:07:40

    


Will Abortion Access Turn The Republican Tide?
South Dakota’s Democratic Party Could See Landslide Victories in The Following Elections

South Dakota Democrats appear to be using a multi-pronged strategic approach for winning the November general election. Gubernatorial candidate, Jamie Smith is running on Medicaid Expansion, and access to abortion services. Medicaid expansion will be on this November's ballot via initiative petition, and it appears access to abortion will soon follow.

On August 24, 2022, James Leach Attorney for Dakotans For Health, filed an Initiative Petition with the Secretary of State, on behalf of the group, this time for access to abortion in the state. Dakotans for Health is the same group running the Medicaid Expansion measure, and run by former Democratic U.S Senate candidate Rick Weiland. Weiland is a major player in the South Dakota Democratic Party, and has worked for years to flip South Dakota from red to blue. Going into this next election, Weiland might just see his work coming to fruition.

In 2006 the Republican-led legislature passed an abortion ban, signed by then Gov. Mike Rounds. The issue was challenged by referendum, a process that refers the issue to voters. The voters overturned the legislature's abortion ban by 56-44, by 2008 the voters overturned another attempt at banning abortion by 55-45. A margin that might not seem that impressive, however, it shows that the political dynamics in the state are changing.

During the last primary, the legislature proposed Amendment C, a measure that would have required 60% of voters who show up at the polls to agree to tax increases. This time, the voters shot it down by a wide margin of 67 percent, sending shock waves through the establishment party.

Republicans, perhaps feeling overly confident, were outspent and
out advertised by money from out-of-state groups, like the National Teachers Association. Advertising was strategic, well crafted, and geared towards non-affiliated voters, airing on social media and multiple streaming platforms to a younger audience.

Republicans, who were previously picking up mid-left, and centrist-voters due to vaccine mandates, have now lost that momentum after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade to the states. A fear over rights to bodily autonomy, appears to be driving political strategy today as non-affiliated voters and democratic voters combined, outnumber republicans in the state of South Dakota.

In a statement to Kelo News, Weiland divulges the impact of that combined voting block.

“I think that the voters have demonstrated time and time again, most recently with their rejection of the legislature’s effort to put a minority rule amendment on the primary ballot,” Weiland said. “And Amendment C was rejected by 67%. I think that says a lot about the people of South Dakota and how much they have come to appreciate the opportunity to exercise a more direct approach to public policy.”

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It's also clear that the Democratic party is closely eying results from Kansas, a red state that recently defeated an abortion ban at the ballot, by a landslide. “I am optimistic that the voters are going to weigh in, and that they will turn out like they did in Kansas,” Weiland said. “But with a Supreme Court’s decision, you know, the people of South Dakota are gonna have a chance to weigh in, and I think that’s the way it should be.”

The abortion ban wasn't just defeated in Kansas however, it also turned out a record high percent of Democratic voters during a primary election.

In Kansas’ 2018 primary, 473,000 people voted for governor, which equates to a 26% turnout. During the Kansas primary, on the other hand, turnout swelled to 750,000 for governor, which equates to a 39% turnout. From a partisan turnout perspective, Democratic turnout increased 81% relative to the 2018 primary, while Republican turnout only increased by 48%.

Pundits and political analysts are calling this a "blue wave." CNN reported about the defeat, “a thunderclap victory on abortion rights in Kansas gives Democrats a potent midterm issue.”

According to Ring of Fire a show on The Young Turks, the Kansas primary results are a clear indication that an overwhelming majority of republican, and non-affiliated voters, disagree with banning abortion.



While some within the republican party argue that "it was just a blip," democrats don't seem to agree. Amidst a fractured SD republican base, should the abortion issue turn out typically dormant non-affiliated and centrist voters, for the democratic party, democrats could flip the red state of South Dakota blue, over the next two years.



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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-29 08:16:42Last Update: 2022-08-28 22:19:50

    


Federal Judge Finds State Violated Voting Rights of Native Americans
Election Integrity Continues to be an Issue in South Dakota

A Federal Judge ruled on May 26, 2022 that the State of South Dakota has violated the voting rights of ingenious tribes. Judge Lawrence Piersol has now given the South Dakota State legislature forty-five days to fix the issue, and put a remedy plan in place ahead of the 2022 General Election, if not, Piersol has said that he will do it himself.

In 2020 the Rosebud and Ogala tribes brought forward a lawsuit against Secretary of State Steve Barnett. The tribes argue that the Secretary of State has not adequately addressed The National Voter Registration Act, which requires state agencies to help voters register to vote whenever they interact with government agencies for other services such as the DMV, or public assistance.

The National Voter Registration Act requires states to provide training to state agencies in order to assist residents with voter registration and alterations at time of address change. Whether an individual is obtaining a new drivers license, updating their address or applying for public assistance in a new area, the act states that agencies shall update voter registration once notified of residency changes.

However, Judge Piersol argued that the Secretary of State’s Office had not provided adequate information to county auditors and the other state agencies, to properly comply with federal law.

Piersol also ruled that DSS (the Department of Social Services) was not complying with the Act, after learning the agency was not changing voter registration when people notified the department via phone call that they had moved. In fact, Piersol found that multiple state agencies like the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Social Services were failing to properly transmit accurate voter registration to the county auditors, stating the failings were due to improper training from Steve Barnett.

“The court finds the secretary of state, as the chief elections officer responsible for implementation of NVRA, contributed to these failings through inadequate training and oversight, and therefore grants summary judgment to plaintiffs on this issue,” Piersol wrote.

Election integrity issues are not new in South Dakota however. In 2001 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Native American voters, "after the state legislature drew a new legislative district map that packed Native Americans into a single district."

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As a result of that redistricting plan, District 27 was created, which encompasses the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations. The ACLU contends that the legislature, by packing the district, created a "supermajority" of 90% Native American voters in one district, which they say diluted the voting power of indigenous peoples. In addition, the ACLU argued that packing the two reservations into one district disenfranchises Indian voters under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits abridging the right to vote on account of race or ethnicity.

According to Bryan Sells, lead attorney for the ACLU "if the state had drawn districts more fairly, Native Americans would have been a majority in two districts instead of a 90 percent supermajority in only one," Sells said. "The people on those reservations deserve to have at least one more person fighting for them in the legislature."

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier sided with the ACLU, and wrote in her ruling that the "current legislative plan impermissibly dilutes the Indian vote" and "denies Indians in Districts 26 and 27 an equal opportunity to access the political process."

Ironically, these are some of the exact same arguments being made by Monae Johnson who recently bumped off Steve Barnett during the SDGOP Convention, winning the nomination 61% to 39%. Johnson, whose children are Native American, has been ridiculed by some within her party for her stance on voter equality and election integrity. However, having served eight years under former Secretaries of State, Johnson seems to be ahead of the curve in her understanding of the issues and the ability to take corrective action. After the convention, The Dakota Leader caught up with Johnson and her new campaign team. With a new campaign manager and a complete rebrand, Johnson has expanded her advisory team with experts who say they're actively engaged with understanding and finding solutions to the issues facing South Dakota's election process. It appears that Johnson, and her team, are highly focused on the trans-partisan challenges facing the Secretary of State's Office, and wants to be an effective change agent.

By all accounts, it would seem that simple fixes like; training agencies, auditors and hosting post election audits would remedy many of the concerns expressed by individuals across the political spectrum. However, getting there seems to be a continuous and uphill battle.

A group called SD Canvassing
recently released a media kit, showing voter roll anomalies, and the extent of outdated voter rolls within the state of South Dakota. The group has requested public records from county auditors, which have all been denied.

In response to voter suppression and election irregularities, The South Dakota Freedom Caucus
just released a statement, after nearly a third of the state's legislature signed onto a letter. Lawmakers are now calling upon Gov. Noem and acting Attorney General Mark Vargo to address these time-sensitive issues, ahead of this November's general election.

The issue of who is able to vote, according to the South Dakota state constitution, will ultimately be determined by how the state defines
"domicile" and residency requirements. Indigenous peoples, having been granted nation-states, are considered citizens of that sovereign nation. However, the Native American Voting Act of 1924 establishes that Indigenous peoples are American citizens first, and therefore have the right to vote in federal elections. Like any American who chooses to move to another state, the ability to vote in state elections, is determined by their primary residential address. The creation of state districts and representation, is based upon federal census data, making the process confusing for many. To further compound the issue, South Dakota's local elections are overseen by each county, or school district (for school board seats).

For similar reasons, the issue of knowing how to file voter registration can be difficult, as a streamlined process has not yet been created throughout agencies. According to Judge Piersol, it is imperative that agencies and auditors alike are given the proper training and tools to ensure equal access at the ballot for all South Dakota residents. Going forward, the next Secretary of State will require working knowledge of this process, the challenges, and a solid plan for how to address them.

By visiting the
SD Secretary of State's website, residents of South Dakota can check the status of their voter registration, and ensure that information is accurate ahead of the next election.



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--Mike Zitterich

Post Date: 2022-08-26 08:33:15Last Update: 2022-08-26 11:55:41

    


“Castration” Trending Today as FDA Reveals Puberty Blockers Not Approved
LGBTQ Activists Say Puberty Blockers are a Form of #Castration and Conversion Therapy, in an Attempt to "Trans Away The Gay"

The trending topic of castration is flooding social media today, amidst concerns for off-label puberty blockers prescribed to children. Upon the announcement of the Tavistock Institute closing in the U.K., former clinicians are speaking out about their experience, and it's coloring the debate of puberty blockers in adolescence, with a new perspective.

Five former clinicians at Tavistock speak out for the first time in a Times article published on August 8, 2022.

"So many potentially gay children were being sent down the pathway to change gender, two of the clinicians said there was a dark joke among staff that 'there would be no gay people left'."

“It feels like conversion therapy for gay children,” one male clinician said. “I frequently had cases where people started identifying as trans after months of horrendous bullying for being gay,” he told The Times.

“Young lesbians considered at the bottom of the heap suddenly found they were really popular when they said they were trans.”

Another female clinician said: “We heard a lot of homophobia which we felt nobody was challenging. A lot of the girls would come in and say, ‘I’m not a lesbian. I fell in love with my best girl friend but then I went online and realized I’m not a lesbian, I’m a boy. Phew.’”

Clinicians also disclosed that referrals for puberty blockers were occurring after three hour sessions, without proper disclosure or informed consent. Studies show that the vast majority of youngsters who begin puberty blockers go on to have irreversible hormone treatment as early as age 16.

The five clinicians speaking out, have since left the institute, ahead of its closure. All five have expressed concerns about informed consent regarding fertility impairment, citing that it was considered "taboo" to discuss the impact of medical intervention on later sexual function in such a young cohort.

People have taken to twitter and other social media platforms, expressing outrage at the homophobia and "chemical castration" of gay and lesbian children.

Chemical castration to avoid having a gay kid. "Trans away the gay" is conversion therapy. https://t.co/TakwGTFf1p

— Tom (@TomSaysGoDawgs) August 24, 2022


The LGBTQ community appears divided on the issue, with some arguing that "pink boys" should be accepted without rushing towards reassignment surgery. "Some pink boys may benefit simply from meeting a swishy gay man—or better yet, two or three such men who can show them you can grow from being a pink boy to a pink man and have (dare I say it?) a fabulous life," reads an excerpt from an article written by Alice Dregar, a trans activist and professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Dregar had received an email from the mother of a "pink-boy" after she had published the Hastings Center Report called "Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood: Inconclusive Advice to Parents.

Dregar writes,

"It's worth keeping in mind that in North America, some of the advocates of the "therapeutic" approach to childhood gender dysphoria have had a very negative view of sexual minorities, and so they've sought to "cure" children who might otherwise turn out gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender. That's changed to some extent, and thank goodness. But now I really think we are seeing a problem coming in on the other end, namely that strong advocates of the accommodation approach are, I worry, too quick to conclude that a gender non-conforming child is destined to be transgender. The move toward transitioning children early may look progressive, but if you step back, you have to wonder why the Samoan approach (a cultural reference to boys wearing dresses) isn't the most progressive.

"I actually had a (truly) progressive pediatric endocrinologist at one of my talks express just this concern to me a few months ago—the concern that kids are being sent the route of sex-change too quickly. What we know about gender dysphoria in childhood suggests that we don't actually know that much. Outcomes vary wildly, and it isn't clear what effects clinical interventions have, if any.

"In case it isn't obvious, sending a child the transgender route is not trivial. Lupron is typically used to delay puberty (to avoid unwanted pubertal changes), but this use of Lupron is off-label and poorly studied. Endocrinologists all over the country have worried to me about the long-term effects of this use. Surgical sex change will render a person infertile, in need of lifelong hormone replacement therapy, and carries significant risk to sexual function and physical health."

Reaffirming gender-stereotypes- Within the feminist community, the topic of transitioning is said to reinforce gender stereotypes of ultra-feminine women and super masculine men.

Gloria Steinem wrote In her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions;

"Transsexuals are paying an extreme tribute to the power of sex roles. In order to set their real human personalities free, they surgically mutilate their own bodies: anything to win from this biased society — where minor differences or hormones and genitals are supposed to dictate total lives and personalities — the right to be who they individually are as human beings."

Janice Raymond, another leader of the feminist movement writes;

"Instead of serving more lifesaving but often less lucrative needs for their surgical and hormone-therapy skills, some physicians are aiding individuals who are desperately trying to conform to an unjust society." Raymond refers to this pharmaceutical push as the transsexual empire, which has been labeled as tans-phobic rhetoric. Despite the pushback from transgender activists, neither have apologized or retracted their statements.

Transgender advocates feel very strongly that access to early intervention can save lives. While studies indicate that sex reassignment can save lives for adults who are transgender, the problem is that it's hard to tell if kids are transgender or simply non-conforming.

In a large percentage of children, gender appears to be a more fluid concept, with actual dysphoria dissipating with age. We also know that a significant number of gay men report having had interests in wearing typically-feminine clothes and doing traditionally-feminine activities as children. So the issue of labeling children as gender dysphoric; e.g when a boy wants to wear or a dress, or a girl wants to ride dirt bikes, becomes more complicated when deciding who will need an endocrinologist, or even a psychologist.

The issue is further compounded by the Biden Administration's new policy to affirm, which has
now become interwoven through Medicaid policies, and state laws.

Critics of the new policies say it's a way to create life-long patients for the pharmaceutical lobby. Others contend that the use of off-label puberty blockers in children causes irreversible damages. Activist say however, that it's a way to save the lives of transgendered teens and adults. Going forward, a balance will need to be struck that both; saves lives, and protects children from opportunistic drug companies.



Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Breeauna Sagdal- Health and Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-24 13:31:44Last Update: 2022-08-25 20:30:45

    


“Combat Color Run” Mile Long Obstacle Course Kicks Off First DSU Home Game Thursday
Wednesday August 24, 2022 by Breeauna Sagdal

The DSU Ag Bowl, kicks off first home-game of the collegiate football season tomorrow evening.

Thursday August 25, 2022 at 7:00pm, The DSU Trojans will face off against rivals Wesleyan (SD) at the 7th annual Ag Bowl. The season kick-off starts at 7:05pm, and will be hosted LIVE on Midco Sports channel (channel 26 or 622 for Midcontinent Communication subscribers), with the gates opening at 5:30 p.m.

"The tailgate will start at 5 p.m. on the east side of the Trojan Football parking lot. The tailgate meal includes pork loin sandwiches, hot dogs, chips, cookies, and beverages. The Mustang Seeds 'Chuck Wagon Cooker,' provided by Terry Schultz, will prepare all the food. The tailgate is free to all ag producers with a ticket, (sent by mail) and all Trojan Athletics Club members."

This annual event will include a tailgate meal, skydivers, and fun for the entire family prior to the season-opening football contest. To celebrate, the Madison Community Center is putting on a "Combat Color Run" before the football game beginning at 5:30pm, with registration beginning at 5:00pm.



The "Combat Color Run" is an all-ages, one mile course that winds through color blasts as participants run, or walk, through a variety of obstacles. Families can sign up now or on the night of the event.



Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--For early registration contact Kaylee Winrow at Kaylee.Winrow@dsu.edu.

Post Date: 2022-08-24 12:45:02Last Update: 2022-08-24 13:31:44

    


Legislators Call on Governor for Election Oversight
Press- Release South Dakota Freedom Caucus

Pierre, S.D. (Aug 22, 2022) – Today, the South Dakota Freedom Caucus released a letter, signed by twenty-four current South Dakota legislators submitted on Friday to Governor Noem, asking her to direct her administration to preserve election records and to allow related records to be evaluated by citizens reviewing this last election.

The letter indicates that a company, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), contracted by South Dakota counties for their ballot counting machines, notified county auditors that records of the votes tallied at the last election are proprietary information, and those County Auditors have refused to release such information to concerned citizens reviewing the elections.

Nearly a third of the current South Dakota legislature signed onto the letter, which argues that the ES&S contract’s provisions which would render election results to become proprietary information should be considered unenforceable. The letter stated that, “such agreement should not be the basis to obstruct or abolish the inherent right of citizens to oversee their elections.”

“Whether there are election issues or not, we stand united that the elections belong to the citizens and it is their right to oversee them to insure they are open, honest, and transparent,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Representative Aaron Aylward, who was the first to sign the letter.

The letter applauded Governor Noem for signing SB 122 into law earlier this year, which banned the private funding of elections after 35 counties received nearly $380,000 since 2020 from Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Technology and Civic Life. The letter argues that the contract with ES&S is similar in nature, as it is another private company exercising undue influence from private organizations and special interests over public elections.

The letter was signed by nearly a third of the current South Dakota legislature, from both the House and the Senate, calling on Governor Noem and acting Attorney General Mark Vargo to take action.


--South Dakota Freedom Caucus

Post Date: 2022-08-24 01:12:03Last Update: 2022-08-24 12:45:02

    


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