Remember the state's plan to cut 17 drivers license stations? Apparently, the cuts have been reduced to 15: Mission and Wagner are not listed among the stations closed as of October 1.
How'd they make out? Thank the Voting Rights Act. According to Monica Wepking of the Wagner Post (also reported previously by Austin Kaus of the Mitchell Daily Republic), closing the drivers license stations would have forced residents to drive farther to obtain the photo IDs necessary for voting. The Native American populations in those areas could well have sued the state for making voting more difficult for them. Upon further review, Governor Rounds decided to avoid litigation and keep the Wagner and Mission stations open.
But the state and urban media are still spinning the closure of the other 15 stations as a good thing... for Sioux Falls. KELO reports that the Westport Avenue drivers license station will get two extra workers two days a week.
"By bringing in the extra staff, it will help shorten the wait times at the Sioux Falls office here. People would be able to come in and get their driver's licenses renewed, also get drive tests at a faster rate," [senior examiner Jim] Lilla said [Brian Kushida, "SF Drivers Licensing Station Gets Staff Boost," KELOLand.com, 2009.10.06].
Indeed, the busy people of Sioux Falls can't be made to wait. But a dozen folks in Britton, another dozen in Howard, another dozen in Philip (and so on) can be expected to not only wait but drive an extra half hour to a licensing station in another town, then lose another half hour in their car as they drive back to their work or their kids or whatever pressing business they have in their little communities.
A Sioux Falls resident waiting at the drivers license station can take phone calls, read a book, you name it. A Philip resident driving to Kadoka or Wall cannot (please, don't read and drive). The productivity loss caused by closing these 15 small-town drivers license stations is great for rural residents than for the Sioux Falls residents favored by the Governor's decision.