Sioux Falls precincts report 33% Election Day turnout, voter turnout ‘very good’ across South Dakota, so far
Voter turnout across South Dakota is on track or above normal compared to prior midterm elections, county auditors said at around 3:15 p.m. CST.
As of midafternoon on Tuesday, here is how counties with electronic poll books are reporting for in-person Election Day voter turnout:
- Hutchinson County has a 34% voter turnout, which is “very good” for the rural southeastern South Dakota county, said Auditor Diane Murtha.
- Yankton County reports a 20% voter turnout.
- 32% of voters have cast their ballot in Hughes County, including absentee voters. County Auditor Thomas Oliva expects to hit a 40% voter turnout by the time polls close.
- About 22% of Brown County registered voters have cast their ballots, including absentee ballots.
In Sioux Falls, multiple precincts are reporting about one-third of the city’s voters have cast their ballots in person on election day. At Faith Family Church in central Sioux Falls, for example, 468 of the 1,400 voters had cast a ballot in person by 3 p.m. At the Career and Technical Education Academy in northwest Sioux Falls, 886 of 3,010 voters had checked in before the evening rush began.
Poll worker Ken McFarland said, however, that “the rush has been all day.”
“This is the slowest it’s been,” he said at about 3:30 p.m. CST, as a line of four voters walked through the school’s entryway.
Elections are running smoothly, even in Grant County, where Auditor Karen Layher had to find six last-minute poll worker alternates after a handful of volunteers came down with COVID.
“I was just checking with local precincts and our voter turnout is around 50%, I’d say, and that is with absentees processed but not counted” said Layher. Grant County uses physical poll books. “I’m happy. It’s going well. The whole town (Milbank) was busy while I was going out to precincts.”
As for absentee voting, counties are reporting standard or above normal absentee rates:
- Pennington County reports close to 19,000 absentee ballots so far, which is well ahead of just under 17,000 absentee ballots cast in the 2018 election, said County Auditor Cindy Mohler.
- Hutchinson County reports about 400 absentee ballots returned so far, which is about 100 more than in the 2018 race, Murtha said.
- Lincoln County reports 5,620 absentee ballots so far, which is in line with the 2018 election.
- Close to 4,000 absentee ballots have been received in Yankton County, which is similar to 2018.
- 1,890 absentee ballots have been received in Hughes County, which is a “little more than typical,” Oliva said.
Murtha believes the increase in absentee voting and earlier day-of voter traffic in Hutchinson County is due in part to changes in voter behavior after the COVID pandemic.
“Usually when I call my precincts at this time they say, ‘Oh, it’s kind of slow.’ It usually picks up around 6 p.m. after work, and there usually aren’t this many absentees,” Murtha said. “With COVID, things changed: people like voting at home or going earlier in the day to vote.”
Over 144,300 absentee ballots have been cast – in-person, military or mailed in – ahead of the 2022 election, according to Nov. 4 data from the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s on track for “normal” midterm absentee numbers. With 597,148 voters registered in South Dakota, that’s 24% voter turnout for absentee ballots alone.
Absentee ballots accounted for 26% of the ballots cast in the 2018 election and 51% in the 2020 election.
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