STATEMENT: Pro-Democracy Group Demos Voices Support for South Dakota Secretary of State's Decisions on Voter Registrations

Release Date: 
October 29, 2004

New York, NY — Today Demos, a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting democracy, voiced its strong support for South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson's recent decisions regarding counting voter registration applications without "double affirmations" of citizenship.

Miles Rapoport, President of Demos and former Secretary of State of Connecticut, said, "Secretary Nelson is right on the facts and right on the law. He is following the letter and spirit of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which Congress enacted to make it easier for people to register, vote, and have their votes counted. All Americans who believe in participatory democracy should be proud of Secretary Nelson's decisions to ensure that duly eligible South Dakotans are able to vote next Tuesday."

Secretary Nelson instructed county officials to consider voter registration applications valid even if applicants have not checked off a box affirming their citizenship. Failure to check off the box is immaterial because South Dakota voter applications also include a voter's signed affirmation of his or her citizenship.

"Every South Dakotan signs an affirmation of his or her citizenship when registering to vote," said Rapoport. "To reject a person's voter application because they forgot to check a box indicating the same thing would be wrong. That's why the states of Iowa, Ohio and Washington have made precisely the same decision as Secretary Nelson.

"If the election of 2000 taught us anything, it's that every vote matters. Secretary Nelson clearly understands that and should be praised for trying to fulfill his duty to help eligible voters cast votes that will count."

For information about challenges to the integrity of our elections in 2004, download the "Democracy at Risk" press briefing kit at www.demos-usa.org.

Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in New York.

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