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Strong Start To Voting In Special Election

October 10, 2011, 4:54 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Strong Start To Voting In Special Election
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The events center special election is generating a lot of interest. Ballots are coming in at a near-record pace. The $115 million decision is poised to have one of the largest turnouts for any special election in city history.

In 20 years of running elections, Sioux Falls Interim City Clerk Sue Roust says this one could be a record-breaker. It may be in part to the longer than usual advance voting period, or it may be because this issue is quickly becoming a polarizing one.

More than a thousand voters have already weighed in and that's just ten days into the vote. Roust says that number of absentee ballots is just one of the things setting this election apart long before the official vote is cast.

"We've never ever done absentee voting that far before election day for a city election. So to be over 1,000 is really startling," Roust said.

The vote has been on the fast-track since Mayor Mike Huether announced his plan to push for the new facility last year.

"I think it's that people care about it. And it is a little bit contentious. I think there are strong feeling on both sides, but I'm encouraged by that," Roust said.

The former Minnehaha County auditor says that means more people are talking about it and more people will be lining up at polling sites come November 8.

These signs going up along Sioux Falls streets are just one way groups are trying to get the word out. The Build It Now group supports the building, but opponents aren't far behind.

"Folks on the other side did file paperwork late Friday to announce intentions to be involved too, so that will help get the public dialogue going and that's good too," Roust said.

Typically Roust says the vote would have just begun and strong voter turnout in a special election is about 35 percent. Sioux Falls has about 90,000 registered voters. The record number is far from that, but it can only climb from here.

"There's a lot of votes out there already," Roust said.

Another deadline to keep in mind is the voter registration deadline. That is coming up October 24. If you are not registered and plan to vote, you have just two weeks to register.

The vote is set for November 8. Whether you wait or vote absentee, be sure to bring along a photo ID.

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