The Secretary of State’s office is continually providing information and guidance on how to handle upcoming school board elections and we have compiled the latest to provide to you.
In a recent statement, Secretary of State Steve Barnett said, “State law does not allow for the rescheduling of these dates or the extension of election deadlines. At this time, all election dates and deadlines remain in place. Our office remains in consultation with Governor Noem and her staff and will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments.”
School board elections are to continue as set by the school board based on this statement, but the Secretary of State’s office is encouraging voters to utilize South Dakota’s absentee voting process. If feasible, school districts can send an absentee ballot application to each voter along with a letter explaining the process.
This is the stance of the Secretary of State’s office at this time. Should any additional information be made available or decisions be made, ASBSD will contact you as soon as we are made aware.
Additional absentee voting suggestions include:
- If ready, the district can begin absentee voting earlier than 15 days;
- McLeod’s in Mitchell sells Absentee voting packets and also sells the pieces individually;
- Election materials webpage: http://www.mcleodprint.com/content/Election-Forms;
- Contact: 605-996-5151;
- While not required by state law, a notice could be published regarding absentee voting starting and include the hours for in-person voting;
- If available, utilize your district’s social media accounts to let voters know that absentee voting has begun;
- A business manager could post a calendar of the hours the school will be open for absentee voting;
- May work with the city to have voters drop off their ballots at the city office;
- You could use civic or volunteer organizations to deliver the applications as long as they are not placing them in mailboxes as that is a federal offense;
- Always visit with your attorney prior to doing this;
- Use a locked drop box for absentee ballot applications or ballots, which will minimize contact.
SOS provided additional suggestions to ensure there are enough election workers; those include:
- School board members may serve on an election board as long as they aren’t on the ballot;
- City or school staff, other than the person in charge of the election, could be an election worker;
- City elected officials could serve on an election board for a school district election;
- Students can be election workers.
During the election day proceedings, SOS suggests the following procedures to ensure the safety of workers and voters:
- Confirm that a polling location you plan to use is going to be open;
- Ask your board to be available to approve a change and to assist with getting the information out to your voters should polling locations change due to closures;
- Consider providing a writing utensil that the voter may keep or throw away, i.e. using golf pencils or allowing voters to bring their own utensil, if they wish;
- Provide plenty of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes at the polling location;
- Space the voting booths farther apart than in previous years;
- Try to maintain a good distance between election workers.
Finally, SOS has set up a website related to elections during the Coronavirus outbreak, it can be found at: https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/upcoming-elections/general-information/Covid-19ElectionInformation.aspx, and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the SOS office at 605-773-3537.
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