By Mike Moen, Greater Dakota News Service
Time is running short for South Dakotans who haven’t voted yet to consider how they will cast their ballots. With COVID-19 still ravaging the state, a detailed plan is strongly encouraged.
South Dakota’s voter-registration deadline was earlier this week. For those who took that step but haven’t voted yet, officials have said there are multiple options, but they have to act or prepare quickly.
Pennington County Auditor Cindy Mohler said you still can request an absentee ballot, but it has to be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You also can vote early in person. There are some non-peak times to help avoid crowds, but Mohler said that’s no guarantee.
“It’s really hard to predict,” she said, “because there are days when you think it’s not going to be very busy, and you have quite a line going sometimes.”
She said that’s why having a couple of potential days in mind is a good idea, in case the first option falls through. Early on a midweek morning tends to be less busy. Whether you vote early in person through Nov. 2 or on Election Day, Mohler said there are safeguards in place, including plastic barriers and hand sanitizer.
South Dakota doesn’t have a mask requirement, but election officials say masks are welcome at polling locations for those who want to wear them. Erik Gaikowski, AARP South Dakota state director, said having a safe, detailed plan in place ensures that voters can make their ballot count during a crucial election.
“We’ve got Social Security, Medicare, prescription drug prices,” he said. “Those are all things that matter, to especially the AARP member population.”
For those voting absentee by mail, officials estimated it could take a few days for the ballot to arrive, and another few days to be sent back to your local election office. With higher demand creating more mail volume, they said absentee ballots should be requested right away.
The AARP-SD Voter Guide is online at states.aarp.org/south-dakota/election-voting-guide.