Pierre, S.D. (Aug 22, 2022) – Today, the South Dakota Freedom Caucus released a letter of twenty-four current South Dakota legislators that submitted a letter 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.