South Dakota doesn’t require county auditors to notify absentee voters about ‘problem’ ballots

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — County auditors weren’t able to process about 1,200 absentee ballots from would-be voters during South Dakota’s primary elections, because all the rules weren’t followed when the ballots were submitted, according to a state official.

How many citizens knew their ballots had problems isn’t clear. South Dakota law doesn’t require county auditors to notify registered voters who don’t follow the steps for completing and returning absentee ballots, Kea Warne said. She is elections director in the South Dakota Secretary of State office

Categories for ballot rejection include ballot missing from the envelope, multiple ballots in an envelope, no signature, non-matching signature, not on time, returned in an unofficial envelope without a signature, and voter deceased.

Secretary of State Steve Barnett’s office doesn’t compile a report on rejected absentee ballots, according to Warne. “However, it is common practice for a county auditor to reach out to the voter to try to correct an error if there is adequate time,” she said.

Absentee voting in South Dakota opened September 18 for the November 3 general election.

Barnett said last week that county auditors had mailed 122,482 absentee ballots to registered voters who had requested them before the absentee period opened for the November election. He said voters had already sent back more than 20,000.

Testifying before a legislative panel earlier this summer, Barnett said registered voters requested 112,222 absentee ballots for the primaries, compared to 23,146 in 2018 and 19,124 in 2016.

He said the absentee-related costs for his office came to about $325,000 for mailing, printing and design.

Of the 154,328 ballots cast in the primaries, 58% came via absentee. The 28% turnout was the highest for a primary election since 2008.

Voter registration for the November 3 election closes at 5 p.m. local time October 19.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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