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Voter Turnout Not Expected To Set Any Records

November 5, 2012, 5:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Voter Turnout Not Expected To Set Any Records
CANTON, SD -

Fifteen percent of South Dakota voters have already cast their ballots in this election. To put that in perspective, only 21 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls during the June primary.    

Voter turnout isn't going to be as low as the primary, but it isn't expected to break any records in South Dakota either.

The Secretary of State expects turnout to be around 70 percent, which is just below the average for the last five presidential elections.

What is driving South Dakotans to vote absentee ahead of Election Day?

Most people say it's simply about convenience.

"I thought it would take me less time today than to do it tomorrow," Worthing voter Pam Chronister said Monday as she voted at the Lincoln County Auditor's Office.

"Some of the people don't want to stand in line at the polling place so it's more convenient to come here and vote," Lincoln County Auditor Paula Feucht said.

Twelve percent of Lincoln County voters have already cast their ballots and the Auditor’s office had steady traffic Monday.

And while convenience may be bringing the voters in early, it's the presidential decision that drives more voters to the polls during the general election every four years in South Dakota.

"More so than ever, I think a lot of people would agree that right now we're in critical times in our country," Harrisburg voter Raymond Janeway said.

South Dakota traditionally has seen its highest voter turnout in presidential years. Four years ago, the state had a 73 percent turnout, and in 2004, South Dakota saw one of the highest voter turnouts ever when 79 percent of registered voters cast their ballots when Senator John Thune beat Democrat and incumbent Senator Tom Daschle.

But for those who were voting Monday in Lincoln County, they think the 70 percent turnout predicted for this year’s election isn’t good enough.

"It could be higher. I would like to see it higher. I think closer to 100 would be the goal but some people don't care as much as they should," Janeway said.

The record voter turnout for South Dakota was in 1968 when there was 81 percent voter turnout.

George McGovern was re-elected as a U.S. Senator that year, and Richard Nixon defeated South Dakota-native Hubert H. Humphrey in the presidential race with South Dakota's vote going to Nixon.

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