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Extra Early Voting Hours Cut In Some Counties

November 1, 2012, 6:22 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Extra Early Voting Hours Cut In Some Counties
HURON, SD -

As we near Election Day, some South Dakota county auditors' offices are expanding hours. But concerns that have surfaced are keeping other offices from doing so.

When the Beadle County auditor attended meetings, she learned about issues being raised with expanded hours because some voters had more access to the polls than others. So, the county looked at the election law, took a step back and will only be open regular office hours.

Beadle County Auditor Jill Hanson is pleased with the number of people who've made their way to her office to vote early. Joan Deshazer was among those casting a ballot on Thursday.

"We are out of town and will be gone that day so I want to get it done ahead of time and, you know, exercise my right to vote," Deshazer said.

Thirty-two percent of Beadle County voters cast a ballot early during the last presidential election in 2008. But they, unlike this year, could do so during extended weekend hours.

A couple hundred people showed up to vote over the weekend during that election. But she isn't sure voter turnout will be affected when the office is closed Saturday and Sunday this year.

"It might have some effect on it but we've been getting a lot of calls. We did put it in the newspaper and on the radio,” Hanson said. “And we have had college students and others calling and asking what our hours are so they can get in here and vote."

And polls will still be open the full 12 hours on Election Day. Hanson expects absentee numbers to be down this year compared to 2008, but is hopeful the overall turnout will be strong.

Deshazer wasn't about to miss her chance to vote.

"I hope there's a great turnout because it's really important to vote. And I'm sure there will be. Weather's nice and I'm sure a lot of people will come out," Deshazer said.

Some counties went through the steps to extend hours during these days before the election. Codington County is open an extra hour every day this week. Brown and Minnehaha counties will be open Saturday morning.

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