Brenda Wade Schmidt
Moody County Courthouse patrons have an option to pay taxes and vote without going inside the building.
The county has installed a secure drop box outside the south door of the building where residents can put their tax payments and returned ballots.
“We just want to make it as convenient for the public as we can,” said Linette Christensen, county treasurer.
The second half of the year taxes are due Oct. 31, and Christensen said she expects more people will use the box as it gets closer to the tax deadline.
October is a busy time at the treasurer’s office. Moody County has 6,500 parcels of property, although many parcels are owned by one person.
“With the COVID thing, the less people that have to stand in line, the better. We just don’t want a lot of people to have to stand in line and risk getting COVID,” she said.
The drop box also lets people who work during the day, pay their taxes after hours. It is locked and secured.
So far, most of the envelopes dropped off outside the courthouse have been election ballots.
“They have been using it a lot,” Auditor Kristina Krull said of absentee voters. “We have a good pile in there every day.”
So far, she 330 ballots that have been returned. “That’s a high number for us.”
Some voters don’t like to come to the second floor of the courthouse to vote absentee, but inside voting also is available, Krull said.
Signs on the courthouse door encourage visitors to wear masks, although they are not required. Because of the threat of coronavirus, “It’s nice when the traffic flow is down a little bit,” she said.
Krull said she still is getting requests for absentee ballots. She has had about 835 voters out of the county’s 4,127 registered voters, ask for an absentee ballot.
She also has fielded questions from people about the process and the safety of absentee voting.
In South Dakota, anyone can request an absentee ballot by mail or can vote absentee in person before election day. None of those ballots are tallied until election day, with the courthouse designated as a precinct, including and workers there to do that job.
In order to request an absentee ballot by mail, the registered voter has to mail in a form, along with a copy of their identification. The auditor’s office checks to make sure they are registered and mails out the ballot. Voter’s then mark their ballot and put it in a provided return envelope that must be signed on the back. That signature is matched with other signatures they used to request the ballot, and the voter’s ballot is put in a secure location until election day. Their name is checked off the list as having voted.
Ballots can either be dropped off at the courthouse or mailed back with proper postage attached.
Voters can check if their absentee ballot has been received back at the auditor’s office by going to the voter information portal at the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website, htpps://sdsos.gov.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 18.