South Dakota’s primary election will take place on June 2 this year. In response to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, legislation was prompted earlier this month — making this the first time residents will receive absentee ballots via mail.
The application for absentee voting is now officially open. Every South Dakotan will receive an application in the mail in the coming weeks.
Those who have already requested an absentee ballot will not receive an application in the mail.
Although this is the first time applications are being mailed to residents, Jason Luz, South Dakota’s deputy secretary of state, said in an interview with KELO Land News, the absentee voting has been available to residents for decades.
After the application form is completed, the individual must submit it to the county auditor. If it’s not submitted, Lutz said that individual will not receive an absentee ballot.
As of right now, Secretary of State Steve Barnett said in an Argus Leader article, South Dakota is still planning on having in-person voting on June 2.
Barnett said he expects more absentee voting this year, but said the state encourages residents to practice their right to vote, whether in person or absentee.
“Part of it depends on where we’re at on June 2 in this pandemic,” Barnett said. “Cases are going to go up. Are people going to be comfortable to go exercise their constitutional right?”
South Dakota’s primary election date falls right before South Dakota is projected to hit its peak in COVID-19 cases. Because of this, Barnett said polling stations will look a little different. More cleaning measures will be put in place to ensure voter safety.
Barnett said right now they are looking for backup poll workers, as many poll workers are older than age 60, putting them higher at risk.
Each polling station needs at least three workers for election day. Barnett said he is expecting some of the current workers to drop out because of COVID-19 risks, which is why they are looking for backup workers.
Absentee applications are now open and are due by 1 p.m. on June 1. In person registration closes on May 28. Even if voters request an absentee ballot and later decide to vote in person, they can go to the polls and cast their votes.