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Friday, December 24, 2010

Madison Central Charges Admission to Vote?

Madison Central School District held the first of its scheduled early-voting sessions this week. One local basketball fan reports that, contrary to the spirit of the 24th Amendment, to vote at Tuesday night's boys' basketball game, one had to buy a five-dollar ticket for admission to the game.

According to my correspondent, the polling station was located in the concession area in the middle school lunchroom. During games, the only way to access that area is through the northwest entrance to the middle school, where the ticket table for the game was located. There was no sign at the ticket table announcing that voting was being conducted on the premises, and my correspondent received no advice at the ticket table that one could enter to vote without buying a ticket. The only public notice of the active polling came at halftime, when the PA announcer, Mike Materese, told the crowd that they could go vote for the MHS renovation project in the lunchroom.

The polling station was managed by Monica Campbell, executive director of the Madison Central Education Foundation, which stands to gain new office space in the renovated high school if the bond issue passes.

Now I'm having trouble pinning this down in statute, since our district seems to be winging it on election law on this early-voting scheme. But if election day rules apply to early-voting sessions, publishing a schedule of early-voting sites online and in the newspaper isn't enough. Let us turn to SDCL 12-14-14:

On election day a sign, with a minimum size of eleven inches by seventeen inches, shall be conspicuously displayed outside of the entrance to any building in which a polling place is located to clearly identify the building as a polling place.

If election law allows early voting, election law should hold early voting places to the same standards to protect voter rights as regular election day voting. Individuals should not have to purchase tickets to access a polling place. The polling place should be conspicuously announced by a sign at the entrance of the building.

By the way, as we consider spending millions of dollars to build a 2500-seat gym, my correspondent reports there were plenty of open seats in the current 1200-seat gym.


  1. I can't believe people had to pay $5 to get into the concession area to vote! Not only is the school district stacking the voting in their favor, they want to receive money to do it!! If evening is the only time one can get out to vote, why should they have to pay money to do it?? What's wrong with this picture??? It is hard to believe this is an open, honest and fair election. Sue Janssen.

  2. Sue, if you can't believe it, that's because what Cory is saying is not true. Anyone can enter the concession area to vote without paying. The fee is strictly for game attendance, which is in a separate building. The concession area is in the lunchroom and there is no admission charge to vote. Now, if someone walks in, quiet as a church mouse, wants to vote but doesn't say a word, they'll probably be asked to pay admission to the game. So the lesson to be learned is, if you simply want to vote, open your mouth and tell someone so you don't get stuck paying for the game. This is an open, honest and fair election with the supporters trying their best to make voting available to as many groups and taxpayers as possible. They should be thanked, not lied about.

  3. Oh come on, they wanted group voting so they could attract their own large groups most likely to vote the way they want. For that they should not be thanked, but put over somebody's knee and get a schooling in ethics.

  4. Charlie Johnson12/24/2010 6:31 PM

    So what is next. The owner of TeeZer's asked for a early voting place at his bar for his bar patrons. By the way, he intends to charge a cover for the band playing that night. I quess we just walk and say we are using the bathroom-right? As i have mentioned before voting has a special right/responsibility to it's sacred nature. To be handed out a ballot while I slip over for a coke and hot dog is NOT what responsible voting is all about. There is still over 30 days to February 1st. Plenty of community/public discussion still needs to take place on this very important issue. it is hard to have the discussion if you have already voted. But perhaps that is the point-some interests don't want a debate/discussion on this issue. For starters, can someone tell the readers of this blog why a gym bond issue for 5.8 million is only figured at a cost of 2.9 million 4 years later or the why the cost figures on the bond issue pamphlet do not add up to 16.9 million. Why are all of the costs being held back. Are we to peak behind the 'secret veil"? Contrary to opinion, you can still voice objection to this bond issue and be pro education. There is a better plan even if you intend to vote no.

  5. Ron Jorgensen12/24/2010 8:30 PM

    Charlie, as you know i served on the county commission for 20 years. In those 20 years i learned to be honest and truthful with the people you serve. The citizens of lake county. To see what the school district is doing in regards to the voting on the upgrades to the school disgusts me. The school district made there proposal and moved forward to a vote of the people. The date was set, then end it there. But to hold voting at various school events is a low that i have never witnessed. Many of the elderly people in lake county do not attend these events, what are they doing to help those people get out and vote. These people have been paying taxes for 40, 50, 60,years. Are they going to the senior centers to offer absentee voting to those people? But hey. why go in the front door, when you can slip in the back door.