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Republicans' straw poll is a winner at State Fair

HURON — South Dakota Republicans launched a straw poll Friday at the State Fair. It proved an instant hit among many in the State Fair's early crowd. "Voting" continues through 6 p.m. Monday.

Dan Lederman said the ballots he brought might not last that long. "It's a great way to reach people and let them know about all of the candidates," he said.

Lederman won election last winter as the new chairman for the South Dakota Republican Party. He is a former state legislator from Dakota Dunes.

The ballot asks registered Republicans to choose their early favorites nine months before the June 2018 statewide primary elections. There are four declared candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor. Two want the Republican nomination for South Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lederman brought the idea to Huron from Union County, where he's been the Union County Republican chairman. Republicans run a straw poll at the Union County Fair.

"So this was a natural transition for me to do it at the state level," he said.

He collected email addresses in Union County and used them later for voter identification.

The State Fair ballot can be used the same way. Ballot stubs go into a drawing for prizes provided by Republican candidates.

The State Fair is a place, Lederman said, where candidates can be in touch with South Dakota's agricultural community, including multiple generations of 4-H members, and with vendors from across the state.

Down the midway the scene was different at the South Dakota Democrats hall.

Out front the Democrats had tables but no action. A "Sunflower" poll sign lay flat on one, next to jars labeled by issue, such as health care and EB-5/GEAR UP.

There were a few people inside and plenty of empty chairs.

Republicans meanwhile gathered inside their hall and often spilled into the midway, where U.S. Sen. John Thune met voters.

The Republican straw ballots had spaces for people to list names, emails and zip codes "to ensure that we're only counting one ballot per registered Republican."

Two ballot boxes carried padlocks, similar to an actual election.

"We're trying to protect the integrity," Lederman said.

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