County follows state voting pattern

Posted November 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

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Election 2012 has come and gone, and now people can study the results in more depth.

In Hand County, voter turnout was 74 percent. Of 2,545 active voters, 1,897 cast ballots, including 427 absentee ballots.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney garnered the South Dakota’s three electoral votes according to the Associated Press. ABC also called the state for Romney, within minutes of the official closing of the polls. The victory was not unexpected; no Democratic presidential candidate has carried the state since 1964.

In South Dakota, 57.9 percent of the voters cast their vote for Romney, and 39.9 percent for President Barack Obama. Nationwide, Obama received 303 electoral votes, compared to Romney’s 206.

In Hand County, 1,242 votes were cast for Romney, and 575 for Obama.

In District 23, the new district that includes Hand County, state legislators will be Corey Brown, senator, and Charles Hoffman and Justin Cronin, representatives. All three are Republicans, and were unopposed.

Republican Kristi Noem kept her seat as South Dakota’s lone representative, receiving 57.5 percent of the vote over Democratic contender Matt Varilek, who received 42.5 percent of the vote. In Hand County, 64.9 percent voted for Noem.

Republicans Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen kept their seats on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, meaning that the GOP has all three seats on the panel. Fiegen defeated Democratic challenger Matt McGovern for a six-year term on the commission that regulates grain warehouses and natural gas, electric and telephone utilities. Commission Chairman Chris Nelson defeated challenger Nick Nemec, a farmer and former state lawmaker, for a four-year term. Hand County favored Fiegen with 60 percent of the vote, and Nelson with 66.2 percent.

South Dakota voters also approved retention of Supreme Court Justice Glen A. Severson, with 80.1 percent voting yes. (Hand County – 84.3 percent yes).

Voters rejected Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to give bonuses to top teachers, phase out tenure and recruit candidates for critical teaching jobs. The Legislature approved the Republican governor’s proposal earlier this year, but the state’s main teachers union, the South Dakota Education Association, collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot for a public vote as Referred Law 16. Opponents of the Governor’s plan contended it could hurt the quality of education because teachers might stop collaborating to help students as they competed for bonus money. The vote was 67.2 against the “teacher’s scholarship program,” and 32.7 percent in favor of the plan. Hand County voted no 74.6 percent to 25.3 percent yes.

Voters also rejected Initiated Measure 15, a proposal to raise the state sales tax to provide more money for schools and the Medicaid program that provides health care to low-income people. A teachers union and a health care organization collected signatures to put the proposal on the ballot after Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Republican-dominated Legislature cut state funding last year for school districts and medical facilities that serve Medicaid patients. The measure would have raised the state sales tax from four percent to five percent and was expected to raise an estimated $180 million a year. Statewide, voters rejected the measure 56.7 percent to 43.3 percent. In Hand County, the vote was 59.7 percent against (1,085 votes) and 43.3 percent for (732 votes).

Andy Wiese, campaign manager for Moving South Dakota Forward, released the following statement regarding Initiated Measure 15 election results:

“The last year has provided us the opportunity to have a discussion directly with the voters on the future of education and health care. Raising awareness of the revenue shortfalls and educating voters about these two programs will benefit all South Dakotans moving forward. It is also important to point out that many of the opponents agreed that our state needs to better fund these two programs. However, we disagreed on the funding mechanism. We look forward to working with them this legislative session to increase funding for our schools and providers. The state continues to face a long-term revenue shortfall and we must work together to fix the problem.”

Referred Law 14, an act to establish the Large Project Development Fund, was rejected, with 57.6 percent against the Governor’s plan to give incentive grants to large construction projects. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill last year at the governor’s urging to provide grants to companies to get them to expand or relocate to South Dakota. The state Democratic party, however, said the estimated $16 million a year in grants would be better used to help fund schools. It gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot for a public vote. The grants would have been paid for with 22 percent of the receipts from the contractor’s excise tax. Hand County voters voted “no” by 62.7 percent.

Voters approved a state constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. Gov. Daugaard proposed the amendment earlier this year, saying current language implied the budget must be balanced but doesn’t require it. The amendment Daugaard proposed says the governor must propose – and the Legislature must pass – a budget in which spending does not exceed anticipated revenue. The vote was 64.6 percent in favor of the amendment, with 35.4 percent against it. Hand County approved Amendment P by 61.2 percent.

State voters had three other constitutional amendments to consider.

Amendment M dealt with corporate restrictions. The Amendment would have removed the restrictions, Voters rejected the proposed amendment 70.4 to 29.6 percent. Hand County rejected the amendment by 72.9 percent.

Constitutional Amendment N would have eliminated a legislative travel reimbursement from the state constitution, and would have allowed legislator travel reimbursement to be set by the Legislature. The amendment was defeated, with 63.2 percent “no” votes, for a tally of 215,590 against, and 125,681 for the change. Nearly 71 percent of Hand County voters said “no.”

Constitutional Amendment O received voter approval to change the method for distributions from the cement plant trust fund. The approved amendment requires a yearly transfer of four percent of the market value of the cement plant trust fund to the state general fund for the support of education. Voters favored the amendment, 56.8 percent, with 43.2 percent against. Hand County voted in favor of the amendment by 53.2 percent.

Janet Kittelson | The Miller Press

VOTERS Teddy Schaff and Rita Ellsworth cast their votes at the courthouse last Tuesday. Janice Arbogast and Eleanor Iverson, along with Margaret Ann Walsh not pictured, were the precinct workers for this voting location.