A very telling picture

A South DaCola foot soldier sent me this photo today of a couple of chairs in the Minnehaha County Administration building.

I also received this email last night from a reader;

State drivers license process is a disaster. I spent 4 occasions at the Sioux Falls office on the side street behind box stores. Each time was 2 hours waiting for 4 digits to be called. You finally get your 10 seconds before you’re sent on a new scavenger hunt. I was helping a young woman. She had no license for 3 years because it was easier to be cited and pay the fine than go through the process. The local office showed a restriction while the state showed none. She had SR22 insurance but the state had no record. You must show 4 forms of ID and divorce papers (name changes). The room is crowded (over occupancy). There’s one bathroom. The air doesn’t work. The same 10 minute video is shown over and over on a 15″ screen to high in the corner to see or hear. There are not enough employees and the best answer you get is a grunt. She still doesn’t have a license and I don’t blame her for abandoning the effort.

Yes, punishment for not having a license but not torture for trying to get one. No wonder so many drive without a license or insurance. We need to drive to get to work and pay taxes to support government.  It’s easy to put money in a state gambling machine but hard to get a drivers license. There’s a major story here (hint for the media).


#1 Justin on 07.18.12 at 11:36 am

Memo to HB1234 voters, this what happens when partisan think tanks dictate your policy.

#2 cr on 07.18.12 at 1:02 pm

Obviously there are issues with the local drivers license bureaus that need to be resolved.

Is this the reason that drivers have no valid license or are not carrying insurance…..

I don’t think so!!

#3 Craig on 07.18.12 at 1:09 pm

Drove by the drivers license station behind Target last week – they were open and the parking lot was far from full. No line outside the building, waiting area didn’t appear to be very full.

Perhaps the problem is everyone is trying to go at the same time of day or on Fridays when they take a three day weekend?

Far be it from pathloss to slightly exaggerate the situation. However, you can’t blame the state for requiring additional paperwork and proof of identity. Blame the crooks who have been stealing IDs, and blame the feds for passing laws requiring the states to be more proactive. It really isn’t that big of a deal – everyone should now be aware of what is required, and if you go there without the proper paperwork that isn’t the driver’s license station’s fault. They are merely enforcing the rules, so if you have to come back three or four times before you get it right you only have yourself to blame.

#4 Justin on 07.18.12 at 2:42 pm

Which laws that the feds passed are you referring to? Minnesota doesn’t have the same voter id laws we have. The doj struck down sc and Texas’ voter id laws. The motivation of this is and was to stop people on the margin from voting, in SD primarily Indians.

Having said that, I think you are right about people coming at the same time. We have heard gripes for years on the lines for taxes and it turns out if you don’t wait until the last day or two it isn’t a problem.

#5 Scott on 07.18.12 at 2:42 pm

It’s easy to say that everybody should be aware of what is needed, but the problem is that they’re not consistent in what they’ll allow. When I had to renew last year, I researched it and brought more than needed. The moron who had the duty of deciding who got to go past the velvet ropes at first said I hadn’t brought it all. I finally laid everything out, pointing how this document satisfied this requirement, and this other satisfied another before he finally let me through.

#6 Justin on 07.18.12 at 2:55 pm


#7 Justin on 07.18.12 at 3:00 pm

Thankfully, ALEC has disbanded it’s task forces on Voter ID laws and Stand Your Ground Laws to stop mass exodus of members. Unfortunately as an early adopter of any radical right wing legislation, SD already has both on the books.

11% of Americans don’t have government issued IDs. Guess which party the majority of them don’t vote for.

#8 Lamb Chislic on 07.18.12 at 3:03 pm

The Driver’s License requirements were initiated by Homeland Security:

But, if I read the fine print correctly, we should only be required to provide all this documentation the first time. Once we’re in the system, license renewals “should be” quicker and easier. Problem is, I don’t think South Dakota has read the fine print.

#9 Justin on 07.18.12 at 3:11 pm

Nowhere in the large OR fine print is there anything saying that you can’t vote without these IDs.

#10 Lamb Chislic on 07.18.12 at 3:17 pm

Who said anything about voting? I’m talking about renewing a driver’s license.

#11 cr on 07.18.12 at 3:17 pm

Justin, have you ever voted in South Dakota?

If you show up to vote without an ID, all you have to do is sign an affidavit.

#12 Craig on 07.18.12 at 3:25 pm

Justin, Lamb Chislic beat me to it, but they were requirements passed via the REAL ID Act which in theory was meant to prevent terrorists from obtaining IDs as well as offering the benefit of reducing identity theft etc.

It wasn’t a state issue and if you look at requirements for other states they mirror what we have. Also, when you bring in your docs the first time, they scan them into the system so they are on file going forward. In theory you don’t need to bring the same docs in again… but I would just in case. It really isn’t that hard.

Of course I say that as a man – if I was a woman who was married in 1956, then divorced in 1972, then married again in 1980 and who has changed names three or four times I’d probably hate getting a license too.

I understand your comments about voting, but that is really a separate issue. People shouldn’t need an ID to vote (even though some are pushing to make that the case nationwide). I’m not a fan of such laws and I would guess we are in agreement there, but the core issue here is the wait times for drivers licenses.

The last time I went it was painless – I didn’t wait for hours or even a single hour. I didn’t get stuck in some line that never ended. There was ample seating as I waited to be called, and the employees were friendly enough (maybe because I showed up with all the required documentation showing who I am instead of getting mad at them when I forgot something).

The population of South Dakota hasn’t exploded overnight, so I don’t understand why all of the sudden this is an issue. I still chalk it up to everyone trying to rush in over their lunch hours or Friday afternoon hoping it will be a 15 minute process.

I hear the same arguments about license plates, but if you show up at 9:00am on a Tuesday in the middle of the month there isn’t a line. Wait until July 31st at Noon and you will be in a line. That is just how it works and people need to plan accordingly to avoid the end of month and lunchtime rush.

#13 Justin on 07.18.12 at 3:29 pm

Supposedly it isn’t an issue anywhere but our county, which tends to support your arguments.

#14 Justin on 07.18.12 at 3:58 pm

an interesting article that refutes the correlation between voter ID laws and voter turnout. SD did drop 6% between 2002 and 2006 but it’s hard not to attribute that to the Thune-Daschle megarace in 2002.


#15 PrairieLady on 07.18.12 at 4:00 pm

I was thinking I had posted a very similar experience in June, I think it was the 5th, as I also voted that day. It took me 3 visits before I could finally sit wait for several hours. 1st visit was downtown, with 10-12 people in the hall and the room full. An hour later I went to the target location, got my papers checked and told it would be at least 2 1/2hrs wait before I would get to the counter. There were people I sat with who said they had the same experiences too. The gal that check my papers said I maybe could get in on Saturday in early morning. The line starts outside before 7am on Saturdays.
Yes, there are times I have been by there and the lot was not full, but it seems there are more problems, than not.

#16 Justin on 07.18.12 at 4:08 pm

It would be interesting to see the impact this has on women taking their spouse’s surname. Having lived in either Boston, NYC or LA most of my adult life very few of my friends’ wives have taken their husband’s surname. SD has been more traditional but now there is a pretty big cost to take that name.

#17 PrairieLady on 07.18.12 at 6:07 pm

Justin you are right. I have been divorced twice an never have taken my husbands names. I was happy then and really happy now. 🙂

#18 Justin on 07.18.12 at 10:47 pm


this is the main U.S. story on the Economist. I for one am glad we didn’t follow along with these states.

#19 Pathloss on 07.19.12 at 8:44 am

Prairie Lady, yours is probably the common circumstance. If there’s any glich it seems there’s no answer but line after line. I agree, there are times when they are not busy. They’re closed Mondays (huh!). Considering Sioux Falls is the states largest city that draws upon 500K people from 6 or more counties, there should be 2 full service facilities in prominent locations either side of town. Does anyone know if Pierre has these problems? I’ll bet not. We’re willing to pay new exorbitant fees. There’s a 10 miliion state budget overage. FIX IT!!!

#20 Pathloss on 07.19.12 at 8:54 am

A drivers license is not only proof you are an eligible driver, it’s fundamental ID. You can’t do anything without ID. Our state demands ID but blocks issuance. You can’t vote or cash a check. You can’t travel on airlines. You can’t get credit. Denying ID should merit as a civil rights violation. FIX IT!!!

#21 Pathloss on 07.19.12 at 9:07 am

This should get the governor’s attention:

Some 200,000 residents are RVers who don’t live in SD but vote here. Most are republicans. Make it hard for them to renew their license and they’ll pull the democrat handle.

#22 Pathloss on 07.19.12 at 9:17 am

And this will work for all voters:

You can’t by a hunting or fishing license. You can’t buy a gun without a driver’s license.

#23 Reader on 07.19.12 at 11:12 am

Agree with Craig (#12). Pathloss make some valid points too, but a little over the top (#20). Are there really 200,000 RVers who vote here? (#21) Is that true about not being able to get a hunting or fishing license without a drivers license (#22)?

Understand the frustration, but facts are pesky things…

#24 rufusx on 07.19.12 at 1:40 pm

So – now she can’t vote either. And some wonder what all the fuss over voter ID is about.

#25 l3wis on 07.19.12 at 2:19 pm

I just read all the comments. I am thoroughly confused.

PL, just take a break for awhile, some don’t understand your sarcasm.

#26 Tom H. on 07.20.12 at 10:44 am

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could live somewhere in this state without a car? Oh wait, CARS = FREEDOM, I forgot.

#27 Justin on 07.22.12 at 12:37 am

I would like to echo what cr said:

In SD you can vote without a photo id… if you don’t want to drive a car. Kind of makes the state ID meaningless unless you want to carry a gun too.

In fact I think a lot of the states that have been blocked will revert to this decision. I apologize for not knowing this was the case.

I also think it is important to share this with everybody you know who is having DL problems.

But I DO think Governor Dauguard’s explanation and response was accurate. I hope I say that again at some point in the future.