City of Sioux Falls says no to absentee ballot drop boxes

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Right now, it looks like the City of Sioux Falls won’t move forward with the Minnehaha County auditor’s plan to install 15 absentee ballot drop boxes for the November election. That’s according to an email from the city attorney’s office to auditor Bob Litz.

Auditor Bob Litz says public libraries in Sioux Falls would have offered a safe and secure place for absentee voters to drop-off ballots ahead of the November election. He’s not mincing words about his disappointment with the city now that those libraries are likely off-limits for ballot drop boxes.

“I think there’s certain times to do the right thing, you gotta have a set of stones, they obviously don’t have them,” Litz said.

Litz says if drop boxes aren’t allowed at libraries in Sioux Falls, he can’t put them at libraries located in other parts of the county because there would not be equal access for all voters. Litz says the city’s decision could place a strain on the longtime relationship between the county and the city when it comes to holding elections.

“Every time the county works with the city on an election, we’re exposed, too. We do that by agreement, we’ve always gotten along great in the past and helped each other. But I think the county’s got some legal risk there every time we help the city with an election and I think we gotta look at that again, I’m not sure,” Litz said.

Instead of having 15 boxes available to voters throughout the county, Litz will now likely post just one here at the County Administration Building and another next door at the Election Center, across the street.

“Obviously, people are going to have to come out of their way to come down here, or depend on the post office to get their ballot in here,” Litz said.

Litz says having just two drop-boxes available downtown is far less convenient for voters than having them spread out throughout the entire city.

The City of Sioux Falls issued a statement Friday afternoon about the decision on drop boxes:

“The idea of adding ballot boxes in libraries is certainly worthy of consideration, but without seeing a plan from Auditor Litz outlining details, including the security of ballots and a staffing plan, it is too early for the City to take on any County responsibilities on elections. Without knowing that plan, the City has decided to not take on any unprecedented responsibility for this election and the credibility of absentee ballots. We look forward to exploring this possibility in the future.” –Mayor Paul TenHaken

Meanwhile, Litz says he’s no longer considering the downtown coliseum as the new location to process and count ballots. He says its large size poses security concerns. Instead, the ballots will be processed at the Old Courthouse Museum, while the votes will be counted inside the Election Center building.

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