Majority of S.D. votes came from absentees

Capitol News Bureau

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:

Minnehaha 43,941/41,621

Pennington 38,968/37,229

Lincoln 15,831/15,164

Brown 11,948/11,743

Lawrence 10,159/9,906

Brookings 9,485/9,270

Codington 8,428/8,369

Yankton 7,407/7,273

Davison 5,560/5,424

Hughes 4,638/4,489

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