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Judge denies request to stop absentee vote count in Minnehaha County

Election workers process absentee ballots during the 2020 general election (File photo)
Election workers process absentee ballots during the 2020 general election (File photo)

A Minnehaha County judge has denied a restraining order to stop mail-in absentee ballots from being counted.

Two individuals filed the lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order last week.

The lawsuit identified two Sioux Falls mail forwarding services listed as the primary address on more than 6,000 voter registration forms.

Voter registration forms require the person registering to declare they live at the listed address with no intention of leaving. That’s also listed in state law.

Circuit Court Judge Douglas Hoffman denied the restraining order request Friday. He said the plaintiffs failed to show sufficient justification to not count the ballots. Election day is Tuesday.

Mail forwarding service businesses like those cited in the lawsuit allow nonresidents to register to vote if they register a vehicle in South Dakota and get a drivers license from the state. It is often done by retirees traveling the country in recreational vehicles.

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.