South Dakota's unusual rules adds new candidates to the November ballot

ICT editorial team

South Dakota Democrats nominate Secretary of State; Public Utilities Commissioner candidates #NativeVote18

Mark Trahant

Indian Country Today

There are more #NattiveVote18 candidates running for state offices this week. That’s an unusual thing this late in the primary season. Then again, South Dakota has an unusual process.

State delegates to the Democratic Convention nominated Alexandra Frederick for the post of Secretary of State. This took place on the last day of the convention after no other candidate stepped forward.

According to the Dakota Free Press: “Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Okreek) rose to suspend the rules to allow the convention to reopen nominations. After Carrie Ackerman Rice formally nominated Frederick, Senator Heinert spoke to Fredrick’s merits, saying she is a longtime friend, rancher, cowgirl, and horsewoman.

“When she took the podium, Frederick greeted the delegates and introduced herself in Lakota. She spoke of her experience during one of her first trips to the polls when members of her family, who all lived in the same household, were told by poll workers they had to go vote at separate precincts miles apart. She said she grew up poor—her family was actually homeless twice—and thus learned a hard work ethic. Frederick promised to bring Lakota values—keeping busy, moving forward, thinking of things bigger than yourself—to the Secretary of State’s office.”

South Dakota Democrats also nominated Wayne Frederick, Rosebud, for the post of Public Utilities Commission. As the Free Press said: “Democrats have nominated a husband-wife team of Native Americans to statewide office … Alexandra and Wayne can carpool, save campaign funds, and offer more local campaign events a doubleheader of campaign speeches!”

Wayne Frederick is a former member of the Rosebud Tribal Council. He has been involved with pipeline issues for some time, challenging the legal status of the then-proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The Associated Press reported that Fredericks said he will advocate for landowners' rights and natural resources.

South Dakota is only one of three states to nominate statewide offices at a party convention instead of in a primary election.

Previously: South Dakota Democrats nominate AG candidate; South Dakota Democrats will decide AG nomination

There are now 15 #NativeVote18 candidates for statewide offices across the country. There are 62 Native women running for federal, statewide and legislative posts.

There are now two candidates from Indian Country running for Secretary of State. That office controls the process for managing elections and voting.

As Governing magazine reported recently: “Voting is one of the more divisive issues these days. While Republicans are pushing voter identification laws and purging inactive voters from the rolls, Democrats are doing everything they can to make voting easier. This conflict, as well as growing concerns about cybersecurity of elections, has elevated the office of the secretary of state more than ever. It's also made this November's races much more intense.”

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports