Kathy Bonnema at left, is extending her regular role as accounts payable clerk in the Butte County Auditor's office to work early voting at the courthouse with Auditor Elaine Jensen. Jensen said that as of Oct. 22, about 217 early or absentee ballots had been cast. Election boards are ready for the Tuesday, Nov. 4 general election and vote counting after polls close.

Milo Dailey, Butte County Post staff

Voters already are casting ballots for the Tuesday, Nov. 4, general election through early voting booths at the Butte County Courthouse or by mail.

Butte County Auditor Elaine Jensen said the early voting - formerly "absentee voting" - has been light so far this year. Early voting closes at the courthouse at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, although there are procedures for emergency voting help in case of accident or sudden illness.

As of Oct. 22, there were 217 early ballots cast.

But there are 6,476 registered voters in the county.

That's up from past years "at least a couple hundred or more."

Jensen said, "There are new people coming into our community."

She said some have come to Belle Fourche from as far as the east coast, some retiring here, some for jobs, and some who are establishing a home in Belle Fourche while a family member works in the North Dakota oil production area.

She said it seems odd that the number of registered voters is increasing, but the number of students at Belle Fourche schools is down: "How does that work?"

Jensen said that election boards for the county's polling places have been selected and will attend a 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, poll worker school at Bowman Hall in Belle Fourche.

Election supply boxes for the polling places were packaged Monday.

The ballot counting machines were scheduled for testing Tuesday, Oct. 28.

"I will be going on Monday, Nov. 3, myself to set up each one of my polling places," Jensen said.

That includes setting up voting booths and making sure that each has the needed supplies.

Polls are at the Belle Fourche Community Hall, at the Newell Community Hall, Nisland American Legion Hall, and the Moreau River Hall at Castle Rock.

On election day, Nov. 4, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"The tabulation of ballots will be done here at the Butte County Courthouse," Jensen said. "Deputy Jerry Nelson is the one who takes care of the tabulating," she said. "I enter the results that go to the state."

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Lindsey Graslie and Kathy Bonnema assist on election night with any questions on the procedure.

The election boards are mixed with both Republicans and Democrats, she said. That includes the boards at the courthouse overseeing the tabulations and to judge any ballots that might be questioned.

"My election workers take the election process very seriously," she said. "They do an outstanding job."

Anyone wondering where they should vote can call the auditor's office in Belle Fourche at 892-4485 or check with the South Dakota secretary of state web site, sdsos.gov.

The web resources include maps of voting districts as well as listings of candidates.

On election day in Belle Fourche, Jensen said there also will be a table staffed to help voters find their district and precinct ballots.

"I am going to have two student council members from Belle Fourche High School to assist with directing voters to where they need to pick up their ballots," she said.

That works along with the youth voting on the Community Hall stage managed by Belle Fourche High School government teacher Phil McNally.

Jensen said, "It's a great experience for them watching the voting process."

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