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Commissioner 'sad to see' low primary voter turnout

Davison County voter turnout was less than inspiring, according to one county commissioner. The Davison County Commission recessed its regular weekly meeting to canvass votes from Tuesday's primary election, and Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode ...

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Republic file photo

Davison County voter turnout was less than inspiring, according to one county commissioner.

The Davison County Commission recessed its regular weekly meeting to canvass votes from Tuesday's primary election, and Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode shared her thoughts on the county's 18.36 percent voter turnout.

"On a not as happy note, I was sad to see we came in at 18 percent voters," Bode said. "It's hard to stimulate that, I know, but voting is an important duty."

Bode made her comments at Thursday's meeting of the Davison County Commission, which was pushed back from the typical Tuesday gathering in order to promptly canvass the ballots. The meeting was held at the Davison County's North Offices on North Main Street in Mitchell.

According to South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, the primary election had a total statewide turnout of 21.93 percent. Statewide, the Republican primary had a turnout of 27.2 percent and the Democratic primary saw a turnout of 17.5 percent from Democrat and independent voters.

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The canvassing board, which included former Davison County Commissioner Carol Millan in the place of absent Commissioner John Claggett, approved Tuesday's election results within the county. The approval affirms the victories of the county coroner and presidential primaries in Davison County.

One Davison County winner was George Bittner, who defeated Terry Rietveld in the Republican primary for coroner by a 71.24 percent to 28.76 percent margin. In the other Republican race in the county, voters supported presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with 68.19 percent of the vote.

The presidential primary for Davison County Democrats, independents and non-affiliated voters was much closer, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defeating U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with 55.19 percent of the vote.

With only three elections in the county, turnout was fairly low, but Kiepke said several residents had hoped to vote for the coroner's race only to be turned away because they were not registered Republicans.

"We had a lot of people upset that they couldn't vote for coroner," Kiepke said. "A lot of people came just to vote for coroner, and they couldn't because they were registered Democrat or independent."

South Dakota's Republican primary is closed to those who are not registered members of the party, unlike the state's Democratic primary, which welcomes the participation of independents.

With one local primary on the ballot, Millan wondered what turnout would have looked like without the coroner's race.

"As far as the Republican Party, it's a good thing we had a race for coroner," Millan said. "I don't know if we would have had the turnout we did."

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According to the South Dakota Secretary of State's website, registered Republicans in precincts 19 and 20 turned out at the highest rate Tuesday. More than 29 percent of Republicans in those precincts, which sit in eastern Mitchell, voted in the primary.

Other business

• Approved the hiring one new employee in both the department of equalization and the highway department.

• Acknowledged volunteers, approved timesheets, approved the auditor's account with the treasurer and applied $1,093.64 in Homeland Security funds to the Office of Emergency Management to cover costs for attending a conference.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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