Media Contact

Janna Farley,

August 28, 2020

To reduce long lines on Election Day and help keep voters safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACLU of South Dakota urges Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken to reconsider placing secure absentee ballot drop boxes at five Sioux Falls libraries.  

The city of Sioux Falls recently denied Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz’ request to place absentee ballot drop boxes at five Sioux Falls libraries. While Siouxland Libraries is jointly operated between the city and the county, Sioux Falls City Hall has authority of the libraries located within city limits. TenHaken’s reasoning for the denial was a lack of time to iron out the necessary security details.

Amid concerns about combating the increasing spread of COVID-19 coupled with nationwide questions about the United States Postal Service’s ability to promptly deliver mail-in ballots, providing voters more easily accessible, secure options to return their absentee ballots is a common-sense solution to ensuring everyone can cast their ballots safely and securely in the 2020 General Election. It also minimizes the number of people that will need to access voting locations, thereby providing more space for those who are engaged in in-person voting.

“Absentee voting is a safe, secure, and effective way for South Dakotans to vote” said Adam Jorgensen, the ACLU of South Dakota voteOUT campaign coordinator. “The government should never require any citizen to play roulette with their health in order to vote. Election drop boxes in convenient places, like Bob Litz wanted to do, allow voters to securely place their ballots in a ballot box at a time of their convenience.”

Litz had intended to place two drop boxes outside of the county administration building in downtown Sioux Falls, seven at various libraries in rural Minnehaha County communities like Baltic, Hartford and Dell Rapids, and five at libraries across Sioux Falls. 

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.