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Voting In SD Could Change

February 27, 2012, 7:10 AM by Austin Hoffman

Voting In SD Could Change
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A trial run of voting or election centers went so well for the Sioux Falls School district last May that Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill into law that allows any jurisdiction in the state use them.

Voting itself would be done the same as it's been done for years.  But instead of going to a designated polling place, voters could go to whichever center is most convenient for them.

"It brings the state up to twentieth-century technology," Bev Chase with the Sioux Falls School District said.

Chase did much of the work to get the pilot voting centers set up for the school board election last May. Each center will have a digital database of every registered voter in that jurisdiction. It allows people go to whichever center is most convenient for them.

"It means a lot of work that doesn't have to be done anymore on both sides. For the voter, it's so much easier. And that's our ultimate goal, is to get the voter into the poll place and let them vote," Chase said.

The district was able to combine 59 polling places into ten voting centers when they tested the program. It saves money because they don’t need as many workers at the sites. Election officials also plant to use them in the upcoming school board and city council election in April.

We are definitely going to use this.  It saves so much money for the jurisdictions that are doing it,” Chase said.

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz wants to see what happens in the April election to see if it's something he could use on a bigger scale.

"We know our own process works and we want to have something that works. I suspect it will work.  But we're proceeding slowly and we're going to examine the evidence and see if we can apply it," Litz said.

Litz says a Minnehaha County election will be much larger than a Sioux Falls School Board and City County election. For him, it all comes down to logistics.

"You may be 15,000 at one place. Will the parking lot handle it? Will the traffic lights handle it? You know all those sorts of things," Litz said.

Chase also says voting centers could be useful in large jurisdictions in rural areas of South Dakota where traditional polling locations are 40 to 50 miles apart.

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