SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Voters in South Dakota can start mailing in their absentee ballots to vote for their preferred candidates on Friday, September 18. If you’re a registered voter, the first thing you’ll need to do is download and print the absentee ballot application.
Once you finish with your application, you’ll need to send it to your elected county official. You will then receive your absentee ballot shortly after. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s webpage, your voted ballot needs be received by your county official on Election Day in enough time to deliver your ballot to your voting precinct before the polls close. Find those dates in the KELOLAND Original below:
As of Monday evening, the latest absentee ballot requests were up to 110,515 total for South Dakota.
In 1939, South Dakota expanded the right to vote through an absentee ballot to people who had to stay at home because of illness or physical disabilities. After that, the state passed a law that extended the right for military service members to receive absentee ballots, in 1944. 1980 was when South Dakota expanded its laws to vote via absentee ballot for people who observe religous holidays or customs on election day, students who were attending college or a university away from home or people who couldn’t vote because of their work schedules.
Just 17 years ago, in 2003, South Dakota allowed any qualified voter to apply and use an absentee ballot.
Steve Barnett is the South Dakota Secretary of State. He says during this pandemic, absentee voting might be the right choice for some people. During this year’s primary elections, 58% of the ballots cast were through absentee voting. In contrast, 2016’s primary election’s absentee ballots accounted for 14%.
Barnett says the turnout for absentee voting in the primary elections could be accounted for many different reasons.
“I think largely due to the pandemic, that has a lot to do with it. I think sending out those forms in April probably helped encourage that. There’s still is uncertainty (with the COVID-19 pandemic) I don’t know if it was greater then or now. Everybody has different comfort levels with this thing,” Barnett said.
The Secretary of State’s office sent out absentee application forms back in April.
“In box four of that form, voters can choose which election they want to sign up for to have that absentee ballot sent. Some might have just checked the primary box, or the municipal, or general or all,” Barnett said.
If you can’t recall what box you checked off, or if you marked any at all, you can visit the Secretary of State’s website under the voter info portal or you can also check with your county auditor.
South Dakotans may received information about mail-in voting months ago, but the United States Postal Service is still reminding people in September.
Voters under the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act are the only ones who can send in their ballots through fax or email. Otherwise going to the polls or absentee voting are the other two options for people in South Dakota.
There are many reasons you should vote in the election, but Barnett said giving your input is one of the most important reasons to vote.
“Voting’s a right and I think it’s important for people to exercise their constitutional right to vote, that way their voice can be heard. They have a right to complain about public service that way, if they exercise the right to vote. But, in all seriousness, we shouldn’t take something like that for granted There are people that died for our right to vote,” Barnett said.