Courthouse site of election night drama

Courthouse site of election night drama
For true election night drama, don't stay home Tuesday night flipping from one television channel to the next.

Simply visit the Clay County Auditor's Office in Vermillion, where election workers were kept busy for approximately three hours Tuesday night, counting local ballots.

It didn't take long for some tight races to emerge shortly after the early returns were tallied.


In Clay County, the races for District 17 House, Clay County commissioner, and the Crawford Road and Crawford Nature Trail Initiatives drew the most interest.

Watching the returns of these three races come in resembled viewing track and field athletes of equal talent taking their laps during a race.

They stayed bunch together practically until the end of the race. The spectator was left guessing which one would break away at the end to cross the finish line first.

There also were some ironic twists imbedded in Tuesday night's results. Of the four people seeking the two winning slots in the District 17 race, incumbent Rep. Jamie Boomgarden (R-Chancellor) came in last in Clay County.

District 17, however, is made up of all of Clay and a portion of Turner counties. In Turner County, Boomgarden caught a second wind, good enough to propel him across the finish line with 3,908 votes, or 28 percent of votes tallied.

Eldon Nygaard (D-Vermillion) also proved to have strong legs under him. He ran his political race with a first place showing in Clay County, receiving 2,692 votes, and faded little in Turner County.

The political newcomer finished his first race for public office with 3,832 votes, just behind Boomgarden with 28 percent of the vote.

Boomgarden's and Nygaard's performance was strong enough to end the political ambitions of incumbent Donna Schafer (R-Vermillion) who finished second in Clay County with 2,200 votes, but faded after that, and fell to third place in District 17 with 3,343 votes.

Challenger Patricia Norin (D-Centerville) received more votes in Clay County (2,049) than Boomgarden's 1,804. She faltered in Turner County, however, finishing last among the four candidates with 2,929 votes.

It didn't take long for observers keeping track of voter numbers to realize that a horserace had developed Tuesday in the bid for five men seeking two positions on the Clay County Commission.

ncumbent Leslie Kephart D-Vermillion shot out to an early lead and kept it, finishing with 2,217 votes.

The race for second place was so close that election workers had to count every ballot to determine who would be serving a term on the commission.

Republican incumbentGerald Sommervold will be returning for another term. His 1,780 votes gave him an ultra-slim margin over Democratic challenger Alex Ufford, who received 1,753 votes.

IThe two other county commission candidates – Democrats Grant Sammelson and William O'Connor – received 1,353 and 788 votes respectively.

The most controversial political races in Vermillion Tuesday involved voters deciding initiatives on whether to extend Crawford Road and connect it with Burbank Road, or make the area a nature preserve and limit construction there to a bike path.

This, again, was a topsy-turvy political battle as ballots were counted throughout the evening.

The winning issue wasn't determined until the final votes were tallied.

Crawford Road received more affirmative votes than negative ones – 1,822 versus 1642.

By nearly the same voter margin, the Crawford Woods nature trail idea failed. It received 1,681 yes votes and 1,806 no votes.

Election Day was mild and sunny, and that, along with a full slate of measures on this year's South Dakota ballot, may have helped attract voters. Total voter turnout in Clay County was just over 62 percent.

Most votes were cast from Rural Ward 1 and Vermillion's Southeast Ward 1, which each had an impressive 74 percent voter turnout.

Strong voter turnouts were also experienced in Rural Ward 3 (73 percent), and Irene and Southeast Ward 2, each with 69 percent voter participation.

returning for another term. His 1,780 votes gave him an ultra-slim margin over Democratic challenger Alex Ufford, who received 1,753 votes.

The two other county commission candidates – Democrats Grant Sammelson and William O�Connor – received 1,353 and 788 votes respectively.

The most controversial political races in Vermillion Tuesday involved voters deciding initiatives on whether to extend Crawford Road and connect it with Burbank Road, or make the area a nature preserve and limit construction there to a bike path.

This, again, was a topsy-turvy political battle as ballots were counted throughout the evening.

The winning issue wasn�t determined until the final votes were tallied.

Crawford Road received more affirmative votes than negative ones – 1,822 versus 1642.

By nearly the same voter margin, the Crawford Woods nature trail idea failed. It received 1,681 yes votes and 1,806 no votes.

Election Day was mild and sunny, and that, along with a full slate of measures on this year�s South Dakota ballot, may have helped attract voters. Total voter turnout in Clay County was just over 62 percent.

Most votes were cast from Rural Ward 1 and Vermillion�s Southeast Ward 1, which each had an impressive 74 percent voter turnout.

Strong voter turnouts were also experienced in Rural Ward 3 (73 percent), and Irene and Southeast Ward 2, each with 69 percent voter participation.

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