OPINION — I wanted to take this opportunity to share information concerning the upcoming general election, which will be held Nov. 3. South Dakota voters have the choice of voting in-person on Election Day or by casting an absentee ballot.
South Dakota’s absentee voting processes have long been in place and provide security measures to ensure the integrity of our elections. Only registered South Dakota voters are eligible to vote absentee. To verify you are a registered voter, you may contact your local county auditor or search the Voter Information Portal (VIP) on our website at www.sdsos.gov. The deadline to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 19. If needed, voter registration forms are available on our website or from your county auditor.
To request an absentee ballot, you must submit an absentee application form to your county auditor. The form must be notarized or accompanied by a copy of your photo ID. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a South Dakota driver’s license or non-driver ID card, passport or other picture ID issued by the United States government, tribal photo ID, or current student photo ID issued by a South Dakota high school or postsecondary education institution. You may download an absentee ballot application form from our website or contact your county auditor to request an application. County auditor contact information to return your form is also available on our website.
Voters that completed an absentee ballot application form earlier this year will receive a ballot if they marked the option of receiving absentee ballots for all elections or the general election on their request form. If you cannot recall whether you requested an absentee ballot for the general election, you may contact your county auditor or check the VIP page on our website. The VIP page will also provide additional information such as your sample ballot and polling location.
South Dakota’s absentee voting period begins 46 days prior to the election on Sept. 18. We encourage voters wishing to use this option to request your absentee ballot as soon as you’re able — which you can do right now — and return the ballot to your county auditor with sufficient time allowed for mail delivery.
If you choose not to vote absentee-by-mail, please note you have the option to in-person absentee vote with your county auditor up to the day before the election or vote at the polls on Nov. 3. On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. Our office, along with your local election officials, continue working to provide a safe environment for our election workers and voters. I would like to encourage anyone interested in becoming an election worker to contact their county auditor. Election workers, which are paid positions, play a crucial role in ensuring free, fair, and accessible elections for all South Dakotans. These positions provide you with a rewarding opportunity to give back to your community and help strengthen our democracy.
The goal of all election officials in South Dakota is to ensure every South Dakotan has access to exercise their right to vote in fair and honest elections. Citizens exercising their right to vote is the foundation of our democracy and I encourage everyone to participate.
Steve Barnett is the South Dakota Secretary of State
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