Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials
Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

American News, Aberdeen, June 21

Faulk County voters deserve praise for 56% turnout

While none of the primary elections across northeastern South Dakota were close enough for a recount, some high numbers did catch our attention.

In fact, most county voter turnout numbers across our region were above the state total.

But special congratulations must go to the voting residents of Faulk County. Voters there cast 882 ballots for a turnout of 56.17 percent.

Especially in off-year primaries, we don't typically see that high number of voter turnout. Faulk County was second in the state, bested by the West River Jones County's 63.03 percent.

The June 5 primary election ballot in Faulk County had two contested races.

Incumbent Kelly Toennies and Aimee Law, both of Faulkton, were running for auditor. Incumbent Kurt Hall and Grady R. Jolley, both of Faulkton, were running for sheriff. In both cases, the winner is unopposed in November.

And, in the end, those who Faulk County residents voted for in statewide Republican races also won: gubernatorial candidate Kristi Noem (58 percent) and U.S. House candidate Dusty Johnson (40 percent).

Statewide, there were 141,044 votes cast for a voter turnout of 26.57 percent.

Even with e-polling problems and Republican-heavy ballots, 6,703 Brown County residents — or 29.67 percent — found their way to a voting center, or put in the effort to vote early. While only 465 ballots were cast in Campbell County, that was still 42.31 percent of the county's registered voters.

That's how voting works after all. Those who cast his or her ballot are the only voices heard, regardless really of which circles were filled in. It is, after all, everyone's civic duty to register to vote — and then to show up and do just that.

Unfortunately, there have been times when the percentage — sadly — was only in single digits or slightly higher.

We are glad this was not the case June 5.

Statewide results were telling in other ways, too.

For instance, those who ran more negative campaigns in the U.S. House of Representatives race lost in the end.

Johnson won the bid five days after he said he wouldn't run negative ads. That's after he was the target of one himself.

Sometimes it doesn't pay to fight fire with fire, and taking the high road ends up being the better route. This is one of those times.

And that tells us that people were paying attention.

Of course, punches of sorts were thrown in the governor's race as well.

But there didn't appear to be a high road there — not even a trail for a horse.

___

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, June 19

South Dakota moves to address voting snafus

South Dakota isn't wasting time in dealing with the voting glitches that marred the state's primary election earlier this month.

On Monday in Pierre, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs told the State Board of Elections she wants all 66 counties in the state to have backup plans in place for the November election, including having hard copies of voter lists available wherever people vote.

Krebs made the recommendations, which the Election Board approved by a 6-1 margin, after several counties, including Yankton, experienced problems with electronic poll books supplied by the company BPro. Software issues caused the company's central server to shut down, which disrupted voting for some time, creating considerable inconvenience. The problems were eventually fixed, but some counties were required to stay open well past the state-mandated 7 p.m. closing time. This created a lag in the reporting of statewide results.

Voting is, of course, the most sacred of democratic responsibilities, and it's up to governing bodies to make it as clean and as accessible as possible. (From here, we could get into a more spirited debate about purging voter rolls and enacting steps to actually discourage people from voting, but that's an argument — which certainly needs to be waged — for another day.)

Krebs, who has done an excellent job in the secretary of state role after inheriting a mess when she was elected in 2014, was aggressive Monday in her plans for a backup protocol. (She has long been a proponent of paper backup documents for voting places.) She said her aim is to have her plans completed by Aug. 15 so they can be posted for public review.

The paper backups would be required in counties with both voting centers (like Yankton County) where anyone in the county can vote, as well as for voting precincts, where people who live only in that precinct can vote.

Obviously, having paper backups at each of the six voting centers in Yankton County, for example, could be a formidable undertaking, but it would be worth it to ensure that the process transpired without issues.

Nevertheless, this (relatively) new technology places new demands on the process, and the needs for protection are the same. In fact, they're probably even greater in this interconnected age, as recent events would suggest, unfortunately.

Krebs is working vigorously to address the knowable problems that popped up in the process earlier this month. At the very least, her proposals are vital in keeping the voting process in South Dakota as convenient and accessible to the electorate as possible. At this juncture, they are worth implementing.

___

Madison Daily Leader, Madison, June 20

Madison should watch for ash borer results

The emerald ash borer has arrived in South Dakota, and we would expect it to come to Lake County soon, if it isn't already here.

The adults borers (which are beetles) nibble on ash tree leaves causing little damage, but the larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree.

States, counties, cities and even countries are working to prevent the spread of the ash borer. A map created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the insect has been found in 33 states, with the highest concentration appearing to be in Indiana and Ohio. South Dakota has had only one observation, in Sioux Falls, in May.

Even so, some experts believe the spread is inevitable. The City of Sioux Falls believes the beetle could destroy more than 80,000 trees in the city during the next decade.

So Sioux Falls has announced it is fighting back, by releasing a certain breed of wasps. The wasps prey on borers by laying eggs inside the beetles, which die when the eggs are hatched.

The U.S. Forest service approves the method and is providing the wasps. South Dakota agriculture entomologist John Ball says the parasitoid species of wasps pose no threat to humans.

Madison should watch this battle carefully. Our city and Lake County have many ash trees and could be severely damaged by an infestation. If the wasps are successful and the borer is halted, we want to know about it.

We have mixed feelings about messing with Mother Nature. Sometimes we believe we do more damage than good if we use toxic chemicals to kill species of plants, insects and animals. On the other hand, releasing the wasps sounds like a more natural solution, in which nature takes care of itself.

There may be a negative side to releasing the wasps. If so, Sioux Falls can find out about it before we try it.

There are efforts all over the country to battle the emerald ash borer. We could learn from those as well, but the fight in Sioux Falls is worth watching most closely.

This article was written by cool news network.

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