General election voter turnout, results are in



There’s only been one other election in recent history that saw a higher voter turnout and there was a higher-than-normal number of absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 6 general election.

Of 3,977 registered voters in Day County, 2,793 cast a ballot in this year’s election. That’s a 70.22 percent voter turnout.

The number of absentee ballots cast in this year’s election was higher than normal, according to Karli Zimmerman, Day County Deputy Auditor. Absentee voters represented at least 29.14 percent.

There were 833 people who requested an absentee ballot but 814 were returned before the election. Zimmerman said her office didn’t yet know how many ballots were received on election day. Those received after Nov. 6 could not be counted or included in the election.

In the primary election earlier this year, 18.27 percent of the votes were absentee. The percentage of absentee ballots cast in the 2016 general election were 36.63 percent, and in that year’s primary election was 13.49 percent; in the 2014 general election, the absentee voter turnout was 24.17 percent and it was 11.85 percent for that year’s primary election. These numbers were shared from the Day County Auditor’s Office.

Day County’s highest voter turnout was in 2004 with 81 percent, according to Reporter & Farmer archives.


Ryan Rucktaeschel beat out incumbent Barry Hillestad for Day County Sheriff by a difference of 70 votes.

Rucktaeschel (R) had 42 percent of the votes with 1,127 while Hillestad (D) had 39 percent of the vote with 1,057. Jason Coenen (I) earned 19 percent of the votes cast with 521.


Derek L. Sinner was the top vote-getter for District 5 Commissioner, beating out incumbent Chuck Hesla by five votes.

Sinner (R) received 39 percent of the votes and Hesla (D) 38 percent with 221 and 216 votes respectively. Independent candidate John Schiley received 23 percent of the vote with 129 ballots cast for him.

Because the difference in votes falls within two percent of the total votes cast, Hesla has the right to a recount. He has said, however, that he does not intend to request one.

Legislative races

Tamara St. John (R) was the top vote-getter in both Day County and District One for State Representative. Dennert (D) won Day County but McCleerey (D) won the District vote.

The last Republican elected to the House of Representatives from District One was Mike Jaspers in 1998, according to former Webster resident and political junkie Lee Schoenbeck, Watertown. Jaspers served one two-year term and didn’t seek reelection in 2000.

“I knew what I was up against by the historic data,” St. John said. “To see the votes come in was surprising, even to me. I was excited. I think it really speaks to the fact that we’re really not as far apart as we think... (In northeast South Dakota), we see eye-to-eye much more than people think.”

In Day County, St. John had 1,251 votes to Dennert’s 1,098 and McCleerey’s 1,045. Statewide, St. John received 4,733 votes to McCleerey’s 4,299 and Dennert’s 4,138.

With what St. John called a “prevailing negative narrative,” at a national level in politics currently, she said she thinks South Dakotans are “able to shut off the news” and focus on what’s going on here.

In Pierre, St. John said focusing on nursing homes is one area she has made a lot of promises that she intends to keep.

“That’s something that needs a solution. We need our nursing homes. That’s one of the top things on my list,” she said. “Something I want to continually campaign on is my willingness to work hard and communication.”

On the senate side, Susan Wismer was reelected. She ran unopposed, receiving 1,566 votes in Day County and 5,884 across the district.

Schoenbeck, who ran unopposed for state senator in District 5, received 6,358 votes.


While Billie Sutton (D) was the pick of Day County for South Dakota’s next governor, with 55 percent of the vote, Kristi Noem (R) was elected the state’s first female governor with 51 percent of the vote at the state level.

Noem had 172,894 votes across the state while Sutton had the backing of 48 percent of South Dakota voters, or 161,416 votes. Libertarian Kurt Evans had 4,844 statewide votes, or one percent.

In Day County, Noem had 43 percent backing with 1,207 votes versus Sutton’s 1,531. Evans had one percent backing in the county with 39 votes.

U.S. Representative

Dustin “Dusty” Johnson (R) won the statewide backing to become the next representative for South Dakota with 60 percent voter backing versus Democratic candidate Tim Bjorkman’s 36 percent, Independent candidate Ron Wieczorek’s two percent and Libertarian candidate George D. Hendrickson’s one percent.

Johnson had 202,673 votes across South Dakota while Bjorkman had 121,002. Wieczorek had 7,322 votes and Hendrickson had 4,912.

In Day County, Johnson had 56 percent of the votes with 1,541, Bjorkman had 39 percent of the votes with 1,072, Wieczorek had two percent of the votes with 68 and Hendrickson had one percent of the vote with 36.

Secretary of State

Steve Barnett (R) was elected South Dakota Secretary of State with 65 percent of the state vote, or 211,039. Alexandra Frederick (D) received 112,777 votes for 35 percent. In Day County, Barnett likewise took the lead, receiving 60 percent of the votes, or 1,586 votes; Frederick had 39 percent of the votes with 1,023.

Attorney General

Republican Jason Ravnsborg won the state bid for Attorney General with 179,049 votes or 55 percent. Democrat Randy Seiler received 45 percent of the vote with 145,526. If it were up to Day County voters, Seiler would have been the next Attorney General, since he received 51 percent of the vote, with 1,342 versus Ravnsborg’s 48 percent with 1,258.

State Auditor

South Dakota’s next State Auditor will be Rich Sattgast (R) with 64 percent of the vote or 202,031 votes; Democrat Tom Cool received 36 percent with 113,599 votes. In Day County, Sattgast had 58 percent of the vote with 1,463 versus Cool’s 41 percent, 1,024 votes.

State Treasurer

Josh Haeder (R) will be the next South Dakota State Treasurer, having received 62 percent of the statewide vote, or 194,998 versus Democrat Aaron Matson’s 38 percent with 117,729 votes. In Day County, Haeder had 1,348 votes for 54 percent while Matson had 1,109 votes for 45 percent.

Commissioner of School and Public Lands

South Dakotans elected Republican Ryan Brunner as the next Commissioner of School and Public Lands with 62 percent of the vote, with 193,412 votes; Democrat Woody Houser had 38 percent of the vote with 116,739 votes. In Day County, Brunner had the backing of 55 percent of the voters with 1,345 and Houser had the backing of 44 percent with 1,095 votes.

Public Utilities


Republican Kristie Fiegen had 206,410 votes for South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner, or 65 percent of the state’s votes. Wayne Frederick (D) had 35 percent statewide with 108,897 votes. Day County voters gave 56 percent, or 1,385 votes, to Fiegen and 43 percent, or 1,070 to Frederick.

Amendments and

Initiated Measures

Constitutional Amendment W did not pass, with 55 percent of statewide voters saying no, or 174,045 versus the 142,737, 45 percent, who said yes. The breakdown of that in Day County was 41 percent, 1,054 for it and 58 percent, 1,491 against it.

Constitutional Amendment X also failed. Fifty-four percent of voters – 167,332 – said no while 46 percent – 140,692 said yes. In Day County, 1,549 were against it and 987 were for it.

Constitutional Amendment Z passed with 195,745, or 62 percent, saying yes and 117,925 or 38 percent saying no. In Day County, 1,384 said yes and 1,147 said no.

Initiated Measure 24 passed with 56 percent for it, or 174,912 while 140,149 – 44 percent – were against it. Day County voters said yes 1,297 times and 1,270 times said no.

Initiated Measure 25 failed with 182,370 votes or 55 percent saying no while 45 percent or 148,739 said yes. In Day County, there were 1,112 who voted yes and 1,586 who voted no.


Justice Janine M. Kern was voted to retain her seat on the South Dakota Supreme Court by 83 percent, or 243,358 votes; 17 percent, or 49,531 thought she should not. Day County voters voted to keep her in by 83 percent with 1,921 votes and 16 percent voted no with 386.

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