Election Review Committee Discusses Polling Sites

Fixing Voting Problems In Minnehaha County

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Eliminating voter confusion in county and city elections is one of the primary goals for the Minnehaha County Election Review Committee, but some members say that won’t happen until the polling sites are the same for every type of election.

It sounds like a simple enough solution, but in a city divided into two counties, and with different elections falling at very different times, it seems there is no easy fix when it comes to making voting easy.

“All I want to do is go to one place and vote,” said Rebecca Dunn, Sioux Falls.

Rebecca Dunn is one of many frustrated voters in Minnehaha County.

“Things are complicated in my life and I want this to be easy,” said Dunn.

The difference in polling preference between the county and the city has only made things more complicated for voters.

“You will not do away with voter confusion until you vote everybody the same way,” said Julie Pearson, Pennington County Auditor.

The seven members of the committee spent a majority of their second full meeting discussing precincts vs. vote centers. For the past several years, Sioux Falls residents have cast their ballots at vote centers for municipal and school board elections.

“Our voters can go to any one of those vote centers to vote,” said Lorie Hogstad, Sioux Falls City Clerk.

But Minnehaha County has stuck to precincts for primary and general elections, causing confusion and possibly hurting voter turnout.

“I don’t know how you get away from the mixture of government doing it different in the same district boundaries,” said Pearson.

The fact that Sioux Falls spans two counties complicates the situation for residents living below 57th St.

“If Minnehaha County had vote centers and Linclon County did not, would there be a scenario where I might have to go to two locations to vote?” said Monte Watembach, Lincoln County Resident.

“You can have the potential for two different ballots. So that’s a second step you have to take,” said Sue Roust, Committee Member.

Whether it’s vote centers or precincts, Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz agrees something needs to change.

“I think not talking about it is to turn a blind eye to something that could be a solution. After all, what could go wrong?” said Litz.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6. They’re expected to discuss the idea of combining elections and possibly changing ballot styles.