Wiese, Gross win in District 8 House race; voter turnout is 69.6%

LAKE COUNTY election workers (left) Alyssa Lux, Nancy Moose and April Callies gather election equipment that was returned to the Lake County Courthouse from a rural polling site after the polls closed on Tuesday. The women were part of the election crew that tabulated Lake County ballots at the courthouse.

Marli Wiese, a Madison area farmer, and Randy Gross, a farmer and retired bank executive, won re-election in the District 8 House race and will return to the South Dakota Legislature to start new two-year terms this winter.

District 8 voters in Lake, Moody, Sanborn and Miner counties re-elected the two Republican candidates in a four-person race. Incumbents Wiese and Gross, an Elkton area resident, won their seats in the state House with district vote totals of 7,029 and 6,327, respectively.

Also in the District 8 House race, Democrats John P. Kessinger of Woonsocket and Val Parsley of Madison, a retired educator, received 2,162 and 4,260 votes, respectively, from voters across the four-county legislative district.

Among the ballot results in the District 8 House race, Lake County voters cast the following votes: Wiese 3,921, Gross 3,163, Kessinger 1,095, and Parsley 2,264.

In Lake County, voters cast 5,966 ballots in the fall election -- a total that included 3,221 absentee ballots. Lake County currently has a roster of 8,576 active voters, including persons who are registered as Libertarian, independent and nonparty-aligned. With 5,966 ballots cast, voter turnout in the general election was calculated at 69.6%.

The election team headed by Lake County Auditor Paula Barrick started receiving the county's 2020 general election ballots not long after the polls officially closed in South Dakota at 7 p.m. It took a bit longer for poll workers in rural sites such as Rutland, Ramona, Chester and Wentworth to deliver their ballot boxes and other election equipment, but no unusual delays occurred in getting the ballots delivered for an evening count.

In Madison, city and some rural residents cast their ballots at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse and the Lake County 4-H Center, respectively.

According to Barrick, the voting in Lake County was "very busy" on Tuesday with poll workers seeing a steady flow of individuals arriving at the polling locations throughout the day. The voter numbers were so robust that Barrick and the election workers sent out additional ballots to the rural sites on Election Day "...to be on the safe side and avoid any (ballot) shortages," Barrick said.

At the county courthouse, Barrick and about a half-dozen women tallied the votes precinct by precinct using an ES&S DS450 ballot tabulator. The last set of ballots that were counted were from Madison's Ward 1, which holds the largest number of registered voters in Lake County.

The election workers finished tabulating Tuesday's votes at about 11:40 p.m. and then sent the final ballot tally to the South Dakota Secretary of State's office in Pierre.

Republican Casey Crabtree, a Madison resident, ran unopposed for the District 8 Senate seat. Crabtree, who is employed by Heartland Consumers Power District as an economic development director, was appointed to the state Senate in 2020 after former state Sen. Jordan Youngberg of Madison resigned in June. Crabtree received 4,218 votes in Lake County and 7,829 votes across District 8.

The vote count will remain unofficial until the Lake County Commission canvasses the election results. The county commissioners have scheduled their next meeting to start at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

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