SIOUX FALLS, S.D.— A vote to end prohibition and allow alcohol on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation got most of the votes, but the election outcome was too close to call late Tuesday because of a high number of challenged ballots.
The measure got a majority of yes votes in the unofficial count — 1,645 to 1,494, according tribal spokeswoman Tony Red Cloud, who texted a photo of the handwritten results Tuesday night to The Associated Press.
But because 438 votes were challenged — more than the difference — the outcome of the election won’t be known until those are checked, said tribal president Bryan Brewer.
In the next couple of days, election workers will verify that the people who cast those challenged ballots are enrolled members and living on the reservation.
“People that might not have ever voted in the past when they go to vote. Because they’re not on the census, on the rolls, they will challenge that vote. And sometimes people might move to a different district where their name isn’t on it, they’ll challenge that vote,” Brewer said of the usual reasons. “Usually challenged votes don’t change an election, but that’s a lot of challenged votes.”
People stood in line before polls opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday, said Francis Pumpkin Seed, election commission chairman.
A high number of absentee ballots were also filed, he said.
Of the 43,000 Oglala Sioux Tribe members, about 26,000 live on the reservation. Only tribal members 18 and older who live on the reservation can vote.