Every year there are elections that are our right and responsibility to vote in. Whether it's for president, for people to represent South Dakota in the US Congress, for people to represent us in our state legislature, ballot questions (or laws), or other various local and regional offices.

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The basics of voting in the US

  • To vote you have to be registered. South Dakota's Voter Registration Deadline is October 22. More info about registering to vote is here.
  • On election day where you vote depends on where you live, go here to find out.
  • Bring your ID. When you get to the polling place the workers will check your name in the registration list and give you a ballot. Take that ballot to one of the designated places in the room and fill out your ballot.
  • In South Dakota, we use the 'fill in a circle with a pen' style ballots. Read the instruction and vote. When you're done you put it in the box and you're done.

Here are some answers to common frequently asked questions about voting.

Do I have to vote in every race or ballot question?

No. Leave it blank when you don't feel informed enough to make a decision. For example, some voters only want to vote for president and vice president. The races and public measures you choose to vote on will be counted and the races and public measures you do not vote on will not be counted.

As long as you mark your choice according to the instructions, all the votes you do make WILL be counted, your ballot WILL be valid even if you skip some parts.

How long may I stay in the polling booth?

There is no time limit. If you need to take your time reading and thinking, please do.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

You may request another paper ballot.

Will I still be able to vote if I am in line past 7:00 PM on Election Day?

Yes. Voters who are in line at their polling location by 7:00 PM are allowed to vote no matter how long it takes for each person to cast a ballot.

Can Someone Help Me Vote?

If you need some help because you are disabled or cannot read the ballot, federal law allows you to have a friend or relative assist you in the voting booth.  Elections employees at the polling place can also help you.

My vote doesn't matter in this state, because it'll for sure go for (certain politician).

You don't know that. It's always worth casting your vote. Each of us cannot know the minds of the other voters.

Even if you're on the side of any issue or race that gets fewer votes, a close vote count (like 51%-49%) is an important message to send to the local, state, and national governments.

Will the Election Day Change or Be Moved?

No. No matter what a mailing, a phone call, Facebook post, or what anyone says; election days do not normally move. If a disaster or national emergency forces the movement of an election day you will hear about it from every legitimate news source and local government officials.

Article 2 of the Constitution says the US Congress sets the election day. In the 1800s Congress set it as the first Tuesday after the First Monday in November.

Can People Approach Me, Talk To Me, Bother Me Or Try To Make Me Vote A Certain Way At The Polling Place?

No. It is against the law in South Dakota to campaign at a polling place, interfere with a voter or try to shame or encourage anyone to vote a certain way.

 Statute 12-18-3.   Electioneering, offices, distracting communications devices, and signature gathering prohibited near polling place--Violation as misdemeanor. Except for sample ballots and materials and supplies necessary for the conduct of the election, no person may, in any polling place or within or on any building in which a polling place is located or within one hundred feet from any entrance leading into a polling place, maintain a campaign office or public address system, or use any communication or photographic device in a manner which repeatedly distracts, interrupts, or intimidates any voter or election worker, or display campaign posters, signs, or other campaign materials or by any like means solicit any votes for or against any person or political party or position on a question submitted or which may be submitted. No person may engage in any practice which interferes with the voter's free access to the polls or disrupts the administration of the polling place, or conduct any petition signature gathering, on the day of an election, within one hundred feet of a polling place. For the purposes of this section, the term, polling place, means a designated place voters may go to vote on the day of the election or go to vote absentee. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. -South Dakota Codified Law

Take a few minutes now to make sure you're are still on the voter registration rolls and that all your info is up to date; do that here.

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