SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — By 2:45 p.m. today, the bulk of absentee ballots cast in the primary election in Minnehaha County were counted and on their way to the official vote tabulation.

“We’re rock stars,” said Jan Shafer, a supervisor in the absentee vote room.

Election workers open absentee ballot envelopes on 12 tables with three people each. The envelopes are counted, then ballots are counted and the two numbers must match, workers said. 

Shafer and other election workers estimated they counted about 4,500 ballots.

The names and other information included with the absentee ballot are verified.  But, the ballot and envelope counters do not tally the votes. The absentee ballots are placed in a small blue box which is about the size of the ballot. Those blue boxes are taken to a different room where they are again counted before they are placed in the vote-counting machine.

At least four people on the resolution committee were sitting in the vote tabulation machine counting room as the votes were tabulated. If there are questions about a ballot, the resolution committee reviews the ballot.

The whir of the vote tabulation machine could be heard in an adjacent hallway.

“It went very smoothly,” election worker Margaret Straley said of counting absentee ballots.

Straley and Shafer said they like working at elections.

“It’s a civic duty. It’s like answering the call for jury duty,” Shafer said.

Election workers who counted the absentee ballots said Amendment C, the amendment that deals with ballot questions and the requirement of voter approval, drew some voters to cast a vote in this year’s primary election.

Although the bulk of the absentee ballots has been counted, several workers needed to stay because absentee ballots can be accepted until the polls close at 7 p.m.  After they took a break from the big count, they returned to tables to count several ballots that had been sent through the mail.