OLIVET — On Tuesday, Hutchinson County voters will be offered only one polling place to cast ballots in the South Dakota primary.

All of the county’s seven polling places will be located at the courthouse in Olivet, according to Auditor Diane Murtha.

“Due to COVID-19, we are only having one polling location and that is the courthouse (in Olivet),” she said. “It was a joint agreement between me and the board (of county commissioners).”

The Republican primary includes races for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and District 19 in the South Dakota House. On the Democratic side, the only race is for president. Independent voters can cast ballots in the Democratic primary. The GOP runs a closed primary.

However, Hutchinson County won’t offer polling places for the June 2 local elections, Murtha said. Those are being run separately, she added.

“They have to vote (in the city and school elections) at those locations, not the courthouse,” she said.

In Tripp, the city election will decide a mayoral and one council race. In Freeman, the city and school are both holding elections.

On Tuesday, those Tripp and Freeman voters cannot cast all their ballots at Olivet or the local polling place. They would need to make separate trips for each election.

In Freeman, the joint municipal/school election will be held at the Community Center.

In the city race, voters will decide between Michael Walter and Terry Waterman for a two-year term as their new mayor. In the school race, voters will choose between incumbent Kerry Hofer and challenger Cody Fransen for a three-year term.

In the Tripp city election, voters will choose a new mayor between Scott Schelske and Tom Brown for a two-year term. Schelske previously served on the council for 26 years, according to Finance Officer Kayla Wilson.

The incumbent mayor, Vic Olson, has chosen not to run for another term after serving four years.

In the other race, Ward I voters will choose between incumbent Randy Squier and challenger Loren Buchholz for a two-year term.

The polls are open Tuesday for all races from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All Hutchinson County residents, whether voting absentee or at the polls, must cast their ballot by the closing of polls Tuesday, Murtha said.

 “Any ballots received after 7 p.m. on June 2 will not be counted,” she said.

As part of COVID-19 precautions, the Hutchinson County auditor’s office is offering contactless early voting, Murtha said.

“You can drop off ballots in a ballot box located at the north door at the courthouse and/or call the auditor’s office at (605) 387-4212 for any questions,” she said.

Voters hold one other option for casting ballots while using social distancing, Murtha said. They can pull up to the courthouse, and a member of the auditor’s staff will take their ballot.

“The auditor’s office is doing curbside voting,” she said. “We have four parking spots reserved on the south side of the courthouse for you to pull up and park. There are signs located with the number to call to receive your ballot.”

Hutchinson County doesn’t have any contested primary races, Murtha said.

However, one change has already occurred on the County Commission, she noted.

District III Commissioner Leon Edlund passed away in March, and Mike Wolf was appointed by the board to complete the remainder of 2020.

“(Wolf) was the only person who turned in a petition for the open seat, so he will fulfill the term which expires December 31, 2022,” the auditor said.


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