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Auditors across western South Dakota saw record number of absentee voters

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 8:20 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Early voting for the November election begins today and absentee ballots are officially being sent out to voters nationwide.

Pennington County Auditor Cindy Mohler says her office sent out more than 20,000 absentee ballots in the mail Friday, which she says is the most they have ever sent out.

And those record-setting numbers range all across western South Dakota:

  • Pennington County - 20,000 absentee ballots
  • Lawrence County - 4,200 absentee ballots
  • Meade County - 3,500 absentee ballots
  • Custer County - 1,500 absentee ballots
  • Butte County - 1,110 absentee ballots
  • Fall River County - 1,108 absentee ballots
  • Oglala Lakota - 269 absentee ballots
  • Harding County - 119 absentee ballots

But Mohler says that isn’t the only record she saw broken today.

“It was a very busy morning getting everything set up to early vote here,” says Mohler. “We had a line at the door when we got here this morning. I think they voted more than 240 people at the window so far today, back in 2016 we had 193 all day, so we’ve definitely beat that record.”

And when you do come in to vote early, Mohler says you are not allowed to wear any campaign paraphernalia.

Overall, Moehler says the increase in absentee ballot voting is mainly due to COVID-19, as the pandemic isn’t stopping a lot of people from making sure their voice is heard.

Wanita Gravatt of Rapid City will be voting early and says that’s it is so important to vote no matter how it’s done. She says that absentee voting is a big help for those who can’t get to the polls.

“I think it’s wonderful because there’s so many people that are of vulnerable age and are nervous about voting, there’s just so many variables and absentee I think is great,” says Gravatt.

Mohler says it’s not too late to register for an absentee ballot and she wants to remind everyone to sign the back of their absentee ballot before sending it back.

Copyright 2020 KOTA. All rights reserved.

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