12-19-10. Preservation and delivery of ballot to precinct superintendent--Comparison of statement and application--Deposit in ballot box--Unopened ballots--Unauthorized examination or created record as misdemeanor.

Upon receipt of the sealed return envelope containing the voted ballots, the person in charge of the election or their designee shall mark the date of receipt on the envelope. The person in charge of the election shall keep the absentee ballot in a safe place without opening the envelope or breaking the seal thereof and shall, except as provided by § 12-19-42, deliver it to the precinct superintendent of election of the voter's home precinct. The person in charge of the election shall have the absentee ballots delivered with the election supplies, or if received later, then prior to the close of the polls. If the election board is not otherwise engaged in official duties, or if there are absentee ballots not processed when the polls close, immediately thereafter, the board must carefully compare the statement on the reverse side of the official return envelope with the written application received from the officer in charge of the election without opening or breaking the seal of the return envelope. If the ballot is contained in a combined absentee ballot application/return envelope, the comparison of the statement and the application must be omitted. The board shall enter the voter's name on the election pollbook and mark the registration list if:

(1)    The ballot received was voted by the voter whose name appears on the statement;

(2)    The voter is registered in the precinct and has not previously voted in that precinct at the election; and

(3)    The written application and statement were both signed by the voter.

The board shall then open the envelope without opening, unfolding or examining the ballots the envelope may contain, stamp the ballots with the official stamp, and deposit the ballots with the other ballots cast at the election. If the board determines that an absentee ballot envelope cannot be opened because the envelope does not meet the requirements for opening, the reason must be written on the envelope, signed by a member of the board, and the envelope placed in a larger envelope for unopened absentee ballots.

It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person, prior to the counting of the votes, to open, unfold, or examine any ballot, or make any communication to any person concerning the markings or contents of the ballot, or to create any record associating an individual voter with a ballot.

Source: SL 1913, ch 200, § 3; RC 1919, § 7228; SL 1925, ch 159, § 3; SL 1929, ch 114, § 2; SDC 1939, § 16.0608; SL 1941, ch 80; SL 1944 (SS), ch 2, § 7; SL 1953, ch 75, § 5; SL 1957, ch 85, § 6; SDC Supp 1960, § 16.0616; SL 1963, ch 110, §§ 3, 4; SDCL § 12-19-31; SL 1970, ch 91, § 2; SL 1972, ch 90, § 4; SL 1974, ch 118, § 140; SL 1976, ch 105, § 67; SL 1982, ch 86, § 87; SL 1992, ch 115, § 7; SL 1993, ch 118, § 17; SL 2006, ch 72, § 6; SL 2010, ch 74, § 15; SL 2023, ch 51, § 12.