Military Members


Thank you for serving our great country. With your service at home and abroad, you are defending the very freedoms that make our nation what it is. Your sacrifice gives all of us the right to voice our opinions and vote! The state of South Dakota is determined to provide you with every way possible to have your voice heard. One vote stateside is no more significant than a vote abroad.

In 2008 the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) was passed and former Secretary of State Chris Nelson developed the first system specifically designed for uniformed and overseas voters. This UOCAVA system was named after the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act, which turned a 60 day process into a 24 hour transaction. The UOCAVA system allows all military and overseas voters to submit their absentee ballot application electronically and receive their absentee ballot electronically.

The UOCAVA system was used for the first time in the 2010 general election and continued to be used in the 2012 and 2014 elections. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs will continue using the UOCAVA system as there were 378 uniformed and overseas citizen voters who used this system to vote absentee in the 2014 election. UOCAVA was developed at a cost of less than $100,000 and funded from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant.

The UOCAVA system requires the voter to print their absentee ballot and mail the ballot back to the county auditor. For military voters, the US Department of Defense provides 3-day expedited mail for free from anywhere in the world.


Step 1: Complete, print and sign the Absentee Ballot Application in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.

You must be a registered voter to request an absentee ballot for South Dakota Absentee Voting, however you may submit a voter registration form and an absentee ballot application together. If you are registering to vote or updating your voter registration, you must mail the original form to the county auditor's office.

Download an absentee ballot application by visiting our Absentee Voting page on our website.

If you are already registered to vote in South Dakota, you do not need to re-register. If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, please check using the Voter Information Portal (VIP). If the information on VIP is incorrect, please contact your local election official to make the proper changes. If you are not registered, please click here to find information on how to register to vote.

Step 2: Sign your application.
The requirement for a copy of a photo ID is waived only for overseas voters, which include overseas military and overseas citizens. Stateside military are required to submit a photocopy of their ID with their absentee ballot application. Should notarization of the stateside military voter’s signature be easier to obtain than a photocopy of the ID, a notarized absentee ballot application may be submitted. The notarization on the absentee ballot application can be administered by any commissioned officer in the military service of the United States.

Step 3: Send the application to the person in charge of the election.
Uniformed and overseas voters (UOCAVA) may submit their absentee ballot applications by mail or fax, or a signed and scanned image of the application may be submitted via e-mail to the appropriate local election official.

Step 4a: If you choose to have your ballot mailed to you, complete your ballot and mail it back to your county auditor.

Step 4b: If you chose to have your ballot sent to you electronically, you will receive an e-mail with login information and a link to the Military and Overseas Citizens (UOCAVA) Web Portal. Print your ballot, complete it, sign your envelop and mail it back to your county auditor.

Marked official ballots may NOT be submitted through any electronic means (i.e. fax, email, etc.)

There are also several important things to keep in mind:

  • If you are home on Election Day and have not voted by absentee ballot, you may, if registered, appear at your polling place and vote
  • If you are not registered you may register to vote up until the voter registration deadline, which is 15 days before the election.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot
If a UOCAVA voter has submitted an absentee ballot application but has not received the absentee ballot, a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) may be submitted. The FWAB may be accessed at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website. The instructions on the site will take you through the process step by step. The Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment (MOVE) Act changed the law to have the FWAB recognized for all Federal Elections, including Primary, General, Secondary and Congressional Special Elections. When using the FWAB, only federal races may be voted on.


I am not in the military; can I also vote absentee?

Any individual that is 18 years or older and a U.S. citizen can vote absentee, including eligible spouses, children, or parents of military personnel.

Where is my “legal voting residence”?

For voting purposes, “legal voting residence” can be the state or territory where you last resided prior to entering military service OR the state or territory that you have since claimed as your legal residence. Even though you may no longer maintain formal ties to that residence, the address determines your proper voting jurisdiction.

Can I vote in-person where I am stationed?

Military members may vote in the U.S. state or territory where stationed if they change their legal residence to that state or territory, even if they live on a military installation. Be advised that there may be legal obligations, such as taxation, if you change your state of residence. Therefore, consult a Judge Advocate General officer or legal counsel before making such a decision. Currently there are no provisions for personnel stationed outside the United States to vote in person where stationed.

Where do I send my Federal Postcard Application?

Send your FPCA directly to your local election official. If you are unsure what county you reside in, please check using the Voter Information Portal.

What is the voter registration deadline?

The deadline for the local election official to receive your voter registration form is fifteen (15) days before an election (SDCL 12-4-5).

What is the deadline to submit an absentee ballot application?

The deadline to submit your absentee ballot application is 5:00 p.m. on the day before the Election. South Dakota law required the ballot to be received by the county auditor before the polls close on Election Day.