One of the first things many nomads do when they hit the road is look for a place to live. South Dakota has been one of the best and most popular states for this task for years.
Individuals receive many of the same benefits as other residents, including the right to vote. However, several bills recently attempted to strip mobile home residents of these rights.
What’s going on? Why is South Dakota targeting mobile home owners? Let’s find out more.
South Dakota bill to eliminate voting rights for full-time mobile home owners fails
We are pleased to report that Senate Bill 124 and House Bill 1232 have failed. The South Dakota Senate and House committees have adjourned the bills to the 41st day of the legislative session, essentially killing them.
Mobile home owners and many other South Dakotans opposed the bills. Greg Kulesa, a manager of a mail forwarding service in Sioux Falls, said his company had more than 5,200 customers, 4,000 of whom vote in South Dakota elections.
Kulesa told Keloland Media Group, “The vast majority are from the RV industry. They don’t have a residence anywhere else. They travel all over the U.S. looking for a place to vote.”
While Kulesa supports the integrity of elections, the bills would have had a major impact on the many mail forwarding services in South Dakota.
Had the bills passed, many believe they would have made the job of local election officials more difficult. Many opponents felt this was unnecessary and a waste of residents’ tax dollars.
What was Senate Bill 124?
Republican Senator Julie Frye-Mueller introduced Senate Bill 124 and was a major proponent of the bill. The bill would have prohibited anyone with a business or industrial address from voting in elections.
The bill would require election officials to check the address listed on each new voter registration application against county tax records. This would ensure that the address listed on the voter registration form is a residence. This would prohibit commercial or industrial addresses, an undeveloped property, or the address of a property owned by a local, state, or federal government.
The biggest target of this bill was the thousands of people who use mail forwarding services in the state. Fortunately, Senate Bill 124 failed.
Local officials will not have more work, and thousands of voters will not lose the ability to vote.
What was bill 1232?
District 16 Republican Representative Karla Lems sponsored House Bill 1232, a bill to clarify the definition of residency.
The failed bill defines domicile as “the place where a person has his permanent home and to which, when absent, he intends to return.”
Many of the thousands of nomads who reside in South Dakota do not have a “permanent” place of residence. They use mail forwarding services and campground addresses to establish residency.
The bill targeted these individuals, stating, “No person shall register to vote using a place of business or a campground as a registration address.”
Why do mobile home owners choose South Dakota as their place of residence?
South Dakota has earned a reputation for being one of the most RV-friendly states. Let’s take a look at a few things nomads love about the state.
No income tax
One of the biggest advantages of being a South Dakota resident is that the state does not charge income tax. Individuals from California who become residents of South Dakota can immediately enjoy a 14% pay raise. The less taxes you pay, the more money you can keep in your pocket.
Unfortunately, not everyone will see the same increase, as taxes vary from state to state. However, many will be happy to see a 5 to 6% increase because they no longer have to pay state income tax.
Please note: If you would like to list South Dakota as your state of residence, learn how to make South Dakota your home state as a full-time Rover here.
Cheap and easy vehicle registration
While some states make vehicle registration expensive and difficult, that’s not the case in South Dakota. They show that the other states simply make it more difficult than it needs to be.
No inspection is required to register a vehicle here, and fees are among the lowest in the country. That makes it very easy for RV owners to renew their registrations while on the road, without having to make an extra trip back to the state.
South Dakota makes it easy for RVers to love it. The state allows individuals to establish residency without a physical address.
All you have to do is stay in the state for 24 hours, sign up with a mail forwarding service and fill out some paperwork to become a Mount Rushmore State resident. It really is that simple!
After you sign up with a mail forwarding service, you can have your mail sent to you on your own terms. Some services scan your mail and let you choose what mail they send you. They also send it almost anywhere!
Remember: This RV mail service is the biggest, but is it the best? Click on the link to find out!
Should you maintain residency in South Dakota?
Fortunately, South Dakota officials voted 9-0 to stop the bill. State law requires that a legislative session not exceed 40 days. By delaying the vote on these bills until the 41st day of the legislative session, officials are essentially killing the bills and sending a message.
Republican Senator Lee Shoenbeck told Keloland Media Group, “These bills can keep coming back, but I hope we have the courage to fight these efforts by the government to waste our tax dollars.”
While this is probably not the last we will hear of this legal issue, it bodes well for the future of RV voting rights. If you are considering establishing residency in South Dakota, your right to vote seems secure, at least for now. Considering the vote was 9-0, we have little to worry about.
Did you know about these bills opposing mobile home voting rights?