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As Primary Draws Closer, SD Seniors Encouraged to Use Absentee Ballot

As states such as South Dakota lean more on absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic, supporters of vote-by-mail say it could boost their case of carrying out a nationwide effort during the general election. (Adobe Stock)
As states such as South Dakota lean more on absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic, supporters of vote-by-mail say it could boost their case of carrying out a nationwide effort during the general election. (Adobe Stock)
May 21, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota's primary election is less than two weeks away, along with many local contests.

With the coronavirus pandemic a major concern for vulnerable residents, a leading nonprofit organization is advising the state's aging population to vote absentee.

South Dakota's secretary of state recently took action in response to COVID-19 by mailing applications for an absentee ballot to all registered voters who hadn't already requested one.

Erik Nelson, director of advocacy for AARP South Dakota, says AARP members typically have high turnout in elections, and AARP hopes this time voters use caution in making their voices heard.

"We want everyone to exercise their right to vote, and we want them to do it in a safe way," Nelson stresses. "And we feel that doing it via the absentee-ballot application process is going to be a highly effective way to do that here in 2020."

The state still plans to allow in-person voting on June 2, but state and local officials already have reported much higher absentee ballot requests compared with recent elections.

Applications for voting absentee are due by early afternoon of June 1.

Nelson says awareness efforts will continue. But he says the message has gone out to all corners of the state in making sure people know of this important tool that's always been around.

"Of course, you can't reach everyone," he concedes. "But I think there has been some good efforts at the state level, at the county level and with some partners across the state to make sure that this idea, this opportunity, is promoted."

Those involved in awareness efforts say they're not just trying to protect voters 50 and older from COVID-19, but also poll workers who often are older residents. More information is available through your local county auditor.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - SD