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Vote Centers To Be Expanded For SD Primary

April 10, 2012, 5:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Vote Centers To Be Expanded For SD Primary

Sioux Falls is using a new vote center concept allowing citizens to vote at any location in the city.

Instead of having 60 to 70 individual precincts in Sioux Falls, the city set up 12 different vote centers for Tuesday’s election.

It's aimed at making voting more convenient for citizens who maybe can't make it to their home precinct during the day, but could stop by a vote center on their break during the workday.

Poll workers now scan a driver's license to see if the voter is registered and what district that person lives in so they can give them the right ballot.

"It was the easiest location for me to get to on my way to work and so I thought I'd stop by here," Sioux Falls voter Gretta Melsted said.

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant says the move to allow voters to vote at any location is all about convenience.

"You look at where McDonald's or Burger King locations are and it's where the people are; we need to bring the voting booth to where the people are and that's what we're doing with vote centers. We're not confined to those certain locations where people live, but it's where people are going and where they've been and making voting more easy," Gant said.

Gant says the system of being able to vote wherever you want and not having to go to your specific precinct is going to be expanded to other parts of the state in the upcoming June primary.

Sully, Potter, and Hyde counties in central South Dakota will be implementing vote centers for the primary.

"So this will be the first time we're using this new technology on a state election, which is going to be very exciting come this June 5," Gant said.

There are a few issues to work out; some locations in Sioux Falls Tuesday ran out of ballots so workers had to move ballots from the vote centers that weren't busy to the centers that were more popular.

However, most voters say the new system is easy.

"This was just real convenient and you can stop anywhere wherever you are, happen to be, and think okay, 'I'm going to go vote,'" Sioux Falls voter Phyllis Clark said.

Gant says depending on how the vote centers work in the primary, the system could also be used in the November general election.

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