PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — More than half of the votes that were counted in South Dakota’s November 3 general elections came from absentee ballots.
That’s according to information Monday from the South Dakota Secretary of State office.
The 219,074 valid absentee ballots returned by voters accounted for 51.24% of the 427,529 ballots cast, deputy Jason Lutz said. Voters had requested 228,552 absentee ballots.
South Dakota’s overall voter turnout was 73.88%.
Lutz said 602 of the returned absentee ballots were rejected. Some of the reasons included receipt of ballot after Election Day deadline, missing or non-matching signature, and deceased voter. State law requires return of ballot if the voter dies prior to opening of polls on Election Day, he said.
Absentee include mailed ballots, in-person absentee ballots, and UOCAVA – Uniformed and Overseas Citizens – ballots.
The 2016 presidential election by comparison saw 104,715 absentee ballots requested and 102,390 returned. They accounted for 27.02% of the 378,995 total votes cast, according to Lutz.
Tens of thousands more people voted by absentee ballot this year because of COVID-19 than had in previous years.
The secretary of state office sent all registered voters a letter ahead of the June 2 primary elections asking whether they wanted absentee ballots sent to them by county auditors.
A higher percentage of voters went the absentee route in South Dakota’s June primaries. There were 112,222 absentee ballots requested and 89,312 returned, for 58.36% of the 153,031 votes cast.
That was four times total from the 2016 presidential primary elections, when voters requested 19,444 absentee ballots and returned 17,553, for 13.92% of the 126,128 votes cast.
Counties with the highest numbers of absentee requests and returns for the November general elections were: