Amid COVID-19 concerns, voters encouraged to use absentee ballot

Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star

Located in the parking lot near the county jail, this tent purchased by Fall River County on state surplus is open Mon-Fri, from 8am-5pm, for residents to perform absentee voting.

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HOT SPRINGS – With the June 2 primary election scheduled to go on as planned amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, voters are being strongly encouraged this year to vote by absentee ballot which is why South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett announced last week that his office will mail absentee ballot applications to all South Dakota registered voters between April 17-24.

“Ensuring every South Dakota voter has access to exercise their right to vote is the goal of all election officials in our state,” Barnett stated in a press release. “In response to the current pandemic, we are encouraging all South Dakotans to utilize our state’s absentee vote-by-mail option for our upcoming elections. Absentee ballot applications will be mailed to each registered voter at the mailing address listed on their voter registration form.”

Voters are encouraged to complete their application as soon as possible to allow for delivery and processing times. Once an application is verified by the county auditor, a ballot will be mailed to the voter. 

In addition to processing the mailed-in absentee ballot applications, the Fall River County Courthouse also put up a tent for absentee voting to take place in their parking lot last Friday, April 17, which was the first day residents could submit absentee ballots.

According to County Auditor Sue Ganje, the tent is being manned by personnel from her office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m as a means to make voting easy and convenient for local residents, while still adhering to the county’s lockdown of the courthouse itself. The tent will remain in operation through Monday, June 1 – the day before the actual election day. She said the county purchased the tent as part of the state surplus and will utilize it for voting now, but will later be put to use by the Emergency Manager when the need arises.

State law requires completed absentee ballot applications to be notarized or include a photocopy of an acceptable photo identification card. Acceptable photo identification cards include a South Dakota driver’s license or non-driver ID card, tribal photo ID, passport or other picture ID issued by the United States government, or a current student photo ID issued by a South Dakota high school or postsecondary education institution.

Voters lacking access to a copy machine or notary public may take a photo of their ID using their phone or camera and email or text it to the Fall River County Auditor. Their email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The number to text photos of your ID to is 605-890-3020.

Voters that don’t receive an application due to an undeliverable address and wish to obtain an absentee ballot may request an application from their county auditor or download the form on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sdsos.gov.

Ganje said that if the current coronavirus precautions are still in effect at the time of the June 2 election, necessary steps will be taken at the voting locations which will likely included utilizing multiple rooms at the Mueller Center to ensure no more than 10 people are present at one time, the use of plexiglass at the table, etc.

Fall River County Herald

EDGEMONT OFFICE: PO Box 660 Edgemont, SD  57735-0660   |   605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St. Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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