How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in South Dakota

Posted on 11/28/22 by Emily Paulin, Elissa Chudwin

En español | Any registered voter in South Dakota may vote absentee, but the state does not have a formal early in-person voting program. 

The 2022 midterms decided races for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, state Legislature and governor. The next statewide election is in 2024, though some municipalities, including Rapid City, will hold elections in 2023.

voting booth

  • Absentee voting: All registered voters can request an absentee ballot.
  • Early in-person voting: South Dakota doesn’t offer early in-person voting, but you can cast an absentee ballot at your county auditor's office before Election Day.

  • Voting at the polls: You must show an approved photo ID, such as a state-issued driver’s license or tribal ID, to vote at the polls. Otherwise, you’ll need to complete a personal identification affidavit.

Redistricting in 2021 redrew certain boundaries of state House and Senate districts.

Register by mail or in person:

  • By mail: Print and complete a voter registration form from the state’s voter portal, then mail it to your county auditor. Include your current South Dakota driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Or call your county auditor’s office or the secretary of state’s office at 605-773-3537 to request a registration form.

Contact your county election official if you do not receive an acknowledgment notice within 15 days of the date you submitted your registration application.

Use the state’s voter portal to check your voter registration status.    

South Dakota’s Democratic primary is open to registered Democrats and independent/no party affiliation (NPA) voters, but not Republicans. Its Libertarian primary is open to voters registered as Libertarian, independent or NPA. Its Republican primary is limited to registered Republicans. 

Independent or NPA voters who plan to vote absentee must choose a party ballot when filling out an absentee ballot application. Voters who fail to designate a party ballot will be sent a nonpolitical ballot, which includes only candidates running without a party affiliation and/or local ballot measures.

Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. Note that absentee ballot application forms are valid for one calendar year.

Apply online, by mail or via an authorized messenger, if eligible.

  • By mail: Download and complete an absentee ballot application form. Mail your original, signed application to your county auditor's office. Attach a copy of an acceptable form of ID — such as a South Dakota driver's license, a South Dakota nondriver ID card, passport or tribal photo ID — to your application. Or complete a notarized oath on the form (Section 7) swearing the information is true and correct.

Your application is due by mail or in person by 5 p.m. the day before an election. If you’re returning your application via an authorized messenger, it is due by 3 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots are mailed within 48 hours of an application’s receipt.

Only voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act can submit their application for an absentee ballot via fax or email.

Return your completed absentee ballot:

  • By mail: Follow the instructions that accompany your absentee ballot, then mail your ballot with proper postage to your county auditor’s office.
  • In person: Drop off your completed ballot at your county auditor’s office or at a secure drop box, if your county uses them. Absentee ballots cannot be returned to your polling place on Election Day. Contact your county auditor’s office for drop box locations. 
  • Using an authorized messenger: All voters can have someone deliver their ballot to the correct county auditor’s office or a secure drop box, if offered.

Completed absentee ballots must be received on Election Day with sufficient time for election officials to deliver them to the corresponding polling locations before the polls close. Contact your county auditor to determine the deadline.

Track your ballot using the state’s voter portal.

South Dakota doesn’t offer early in-person voting, but you can go to your county auditor's office to complete and submit an absentee ballot in person.

Yes. All voters applying for an absentee ballot or voting at a polling place on Election Day need to show an approved photo ID, including a state-issued driver’s license, state-issued student ID, U.S. passport or tribal ID.  

If you do not have an approved photo ID while voting in-person absentee or at the polls, you may complete a personal identification affidavit and still vote a regular ballot. This affidavit may not be used as a substitute for the ID requirements for the absentee ballot application.

Use the state's voter portal to find a polling place near you. 

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Nov. 28, 2022, with more information about how to vote in South Dakota. The guide was first published on Aug. 6, 2020. 

This story is provided by AARP South Dakota. Visit the AARP South Dakota page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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