AARP AARP States South Dakota

Protect Your Health and Your Vote

Voters ballot close-up

AARP is encouraging South Dakotans to vote safely this fall by casting absentee ballots during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Some 56 percent of voters embraced the no-excuse absentee ballot option for the June 2 primary; that’s compared with just under 16 percent who voted absentee in the 2018 primary. South Dakota has allowed residents to receive absentee ballots without stating a reason since 2003.

New this year: Voters can track their absentee ballots via the state's Voter Information Portal.

The office of Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R) mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters ahead of the June primary and AARP SD encourage the same for the November election. However, as of publication, officials did not have plans to mail absentee ballot applications before next month's general election.

Voters can download an application from or request one from their county auditor. The completed application must include a copy of a photo ID or be notarized.

Absentee ballots must be returned before polls close on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. But AARP strongly suggests that voters turn in their ballots well before any deadline whenever possible.

“It’s important for our members to know their rights even while they’re concerned about their health and to know that there’s a convenient way to cast their ballots,” said Leah Summit, AARP South Dakota’s associate state director.

Residents can vote early by submitting their absentee ballot, either by mail or in person, at their county auditor’s office. Absentee voting began Sept. 18. Voters should check with their local auditor’s office about whether drop boxes will be available.

For those who wish to vote in person on Election Day, state and county officials are working to make polling locations as safe as possible amid the pandemic.

Polling sites will have safety precautions in place, including requiring social distancing, using plexiglass shields to protect election workers and sanitizing surfaces. 

As Election Day approaches, AARP South Dakota urges voters to learn where candidates stand on issues important to older adults.

One key AARP priority is advocating for expanded access to broadband internet, which is essential for telemedicine and other programs that serve older residents who must remain at home to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.