Lincoln County residents question voter notification of Sioux Falls drop-off box

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Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 11:19 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -If you’ve been by the corner of 69th and Cliff Avenue and wondered why there is a Lincoln County Sheriff employee and vehicle there, it’s all part of an upcoming election, but their presence raises concerns.

“It’s just odd to me,” said Chris David.

She is asking questions about a weekly drop-off site in Sioux Falls for Lincoln county absentee ballots with concerns about how the information about the location and hours is provided to voters.

Lincoln County Auditor Sheri Lund is running for re-election. She is also the person who recently pulled a ballot drop off-box from the Sheriff’s office in Canton, followed by arranging for a county staff member and Sheriff’s deputy to accept ballots in the USF sports complex parking lot on Wednesday afternoons and early evenings.

“When you are running for that seat, and then you’re advertising on your Facebook page, vote for me, and then on the same Facebook page saying, Oh, here’s where you can drop off a ballot,” said David.

We contacted Lincoln County Auditor Sheri Lund and asked where online we could find information regarding the absentee ballot drop-off site.

Lund confirmed she posted on her personal campaign Facebook site several times. Lund also gave us more places to look. However, there was no information on the Lincoln County Website or a Sheriff’s Department Facebook post as she described.

Lund did post the details on a Facebook political group, which was found. However, David believes the action requires more scrutiny.

“To help maintain the integrity of our elections. And just to look at that, from a legal standpoint,” said David.

South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett was already aware of the concerns when he commented on the situation.

“It’s our understanding that the Lincoln County auditor’s office in Canton sent out a slip of paper to all the Lincoln County voters that requested absentee ballots indicating to them that there were some drop off times and so there was proper advertising and notice given to them,” said Barnett.

“It might be illegal. Then my question is, Is it ethical?” asks David.

She also has questions about removing a law enforcement officer from their duty to assist in accepting absentee ballots.

“I just want it to be fair,” said David.

As Lund recently removed the absentee ballot drop box inside the lincoln county sheriff’s office, David believes the drop-off site is the same as another drop box, but this one is on wheels.

The Lincoln County website describes various ways to return an absentee ballot, but does not include information on the drop-off site:

“...submitting the voted ballot to the County Auditor by mailing the ballot to the County Auditor’s office, delivering the ballot to the County Auditor’s office in person or by having someone deliver the ballot for you to the County Auditor’s office.  South Dakota also allows for absentee voting in person, at the Auditor’s office, ahead of the elections.”

Lund believes that the staff member at the drop-off site is an extension of the County Auditors Office, which qualifies the action.

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