SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota election officials worked to process a historic number of absentee ballots as polls closed Tuesday in the primary election.
The secretary of state’s office reported that nearly 87,000 absentee ballots had been returned by Tuesday afternoon, which is almost four times the number received in the 2018 primary. The state had encouraged people to vote absentee to avoid crowded polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
Election officials have had to scramble to process the deluge of absentee ballots, the Argus Leader reported. The main-in ballots take extra steps to process like matching signatures on the absentee application and the ballot.
Joe Biden easily won South Dakota’s Democratic presidential primary as he looks to rack up enough votes nationwide to formally secure the nomination. President Donald Trump won the state on the Republican side, running unopposed.
Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson coasted to victory in their Republican primaries and both are considered strong favorites to win second terms. The election also was deciding a host of legislative, city and school posts, including some contests that were postponed due to virus concerns.
Jess Jones, a Sioux Falls voter, said the current turmoil in the country motivated her to vote Tuesday.
“With recent events, any time you have a voice, you should use it to vote for the people that best represent you,” she said.
REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY
Round, of Fort Pierre, defeated state Rep. Scyller Borglum to win the Republican primary in his effort for a second term. He’ll face Democrat Dan Ahlers from Dell Rapids in the November general election.
Rounds is a former governor who has focused on agriculture and military policy. While Borglum criticized him for encouraging Chinese foreign investment in the past, Rounds has appeared more assertive on Chinese policy during the coronavirus crisis, stating he believes the coronavirus can be linked to a lab in Wuhan that studies infectious diseases.
Rounds also received an endorsement from President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning.
REPUBLICAN HOUSE PRIMARY
Johnson has a clear path to winning a second term in South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House after defeating former state legislator Liz Marty May for the Republican nomination. He will not face a Democrat in the November general election but will run against Libertarian Randy “Uriah” Luallin.
May, a rancher from Kyle in the southwest corner of the state, had tried to challenge Johnson on his record of helping cattle producers.
Johnson, who is from Mitchell, appears to have a huge fundraising advantage over Luallin. He has focused on agriculture policy and argued for restraint in government spending in response to the coronavirus crisis.