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Auditor Litz Insults Commissioner Barth and Democracy by Ignoring Questions about Vote

Let me see if I have this right: during the Minnehaha County Commission's canvass of Tuesday's vote yesterday, Commisssioner Jeff Barth asked County Auditor Bob Litz about errors and delays in the county's delayed ballot count. Auditor Litz proceeded to explain that errors arose because, after he set up several polling stations with two precincts at two tables in the same room, inattentive voters put their ballots in the wrong box. When Commissioner Barth asked how that Election Day set-up could have affected glitchy counting of absentee ballots, Litz responded with this remarkable disrespect for the commissioner:

I have no idea what you're trying to get at with this question. Madame Chair, you know, I would ask that we stay on task with this matter. I'm not here to make a political statement. I'm here to get the results and the accuracy of this canvass passed by this commission. I'd like to save Mr. Barth's proclivitous political partisan pandering for another day. I think the conversation today has to stay with this canvass [Bob Litz, Minnehaha County Commission meeting, Sioux Falls, SD, 2014.11.07].

I'm trying to parse Litz's neologism, proclivitous. If it means anything, we may be able to interpret it as, "manifesting a tendency to engage in some behavior, probably an objectionable behavior."

In the midst of the canvass of a vote, the purpose of which is to verify the legitimacy of the ballots and the completeness and accuracy of the vote count, Commissioner Jeff Barth asks a question about the completeness and accuracy of the vote count. County Auditor Bob Litz, in complete contravention of the purpose of the canvass and his sworn duty as chief election officer of the county, dismisses that question as objectionable political pandering.

Based on his doubts about the integrity of the results tabulated by Auditor Litz, Commissioner Barth voted not to accept the results of the canvass. The rest of the Commission, which voted to approve the canvass, seemed not to want to have that conversation:

Chief Civil Deputy State's Attorney Kersten Kappmeyer and Commissioner Gerald Beninga told Barth a canvassing meeting was not the place to question Litz's performance in the election.

"There are legal remedies elsewhere for the issues Commissioner Barth raised," Kappmeyer said.

"We know we've got an issue. We need to solve the issue," Beninga added. But he said dealing with a review of election procedures as regular commission business and not at a canvassing meeting is the appropriate course [Peter Harriman, "Election Canvas [sic] Gets Heated over Voting Problems," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.11.07].

Minnehaha County, you most certainly should pursue legal or other remedies against a County Auditor who appears to be unable and unwilling to conduct elections effectively and respond commissioners' questions respectfully and directly. You need to take Auditor Litz by the scruff of the neck, tell him to quit blaming Barth for asking good questions and voters eating macaroni and cheese, and fix the problem in Minnehaha County's voting system.


  1. jerry 2014.11.08

    There surely must be some Native voters there in the county as I am thinking that Litz thinks because of this, he can run roughshod over all who question his authority and competence. Litz's attitude sounds all to familiar with how we all have seen things recently. Mr. Barth not only is spot on the bring this up in this meeting, but the rest of the commissioners should be rebuked for the rebuking of his question. Litz proves that he is just another in a long line of toadies that do the bidding of their party, to hell with the rest. Litz seems clueless as to another election that will be held in two short years from now, will those issues be resolved if they are not on the table to repair? Do county voters care?

  2. 96Tears 2014.11.08

    Word of incompetent manipulating of the Sioux Falls voter file in Litz's office emerged last spring during the city races. It was said the damage was very, very costly to repair, that the Secretary of State's office was aware of a big problem and that Litz was in denial over it out of political embarrassment.

    Back then, Litz was again overly reactive and snarky, saying it'll get fixed. City council candidate Rebecca Dunn noticed the problem when absentee ballots went to the wrong people Litz jumped out of his skin and lashed out at her, seeking to get her in trouble with the state's attorney for bringing in one of the faulty ballots to Litz's attention.

    It seems completely stupid to keep Litz in office any longer.

    Jeff Barth had the guts to speak up in the commissioners' examination of election results, which, to me, seemed like the most reasonable time to bring the problems up, especially while Litz was in the room. For a guy who's got a police record for slapping a teen in the face over a driving complaint, maybe the county commissioners should act to remove this incompetent hot head out of office before somebody else gets slapped around.

  3. mike from iowa 2014.11.08

    If everything is aboveboard,hard to tell on a sinking ship,what would be the purpose of legal remedies,unless there is a conspiracy to screw Dems some more.

  4. mike from iowa 2014.11.09

    Doesn't Litz demeanor call into question his impartiality? Dumb question,I know because that is one thing wingnuts aren't bothered about,unless they can use it against the opposition.

  5. JeniW 2014.11.09

    What will Jason Gant do? Or, does he not have any authority over County Auditors?

  6. barry freed 2014.11.09

    Like a shoplifting thief that blusters when caught. Act aggressively and people will most times leave you alone to avoid the icky feelings.
    There are many failures in this last election and the performance of the State's two largest voting block Auditors and their lack of concern for making sure they got it right, is concerning.
    These machines, that reveal themselves not nearly as reliable as our home computers and subject to State's Attorneys' whims for what is counted, are from the same company who has always said their machines were secure, but in security tests, their machines are quickly hacked by computer scientists in the booth and from remote sites. In previous elections they have had problems with their machines showing more votes than voters in precincts and coming up with a negative total of votes for candidates. Adding negative votes is how a hacker makes the total come out right. There is a youtube video of a Monkey trained to hack their machines.
    Accurate results come from hand counting, not learning how to cope with and manipulate the machines' "programming". This State isn't that big, the poll workers working in pairs, can count the ballots in a few hours... with no mistakes, no human error, and no monkey business.

  7. Badger, Out! 2014.11.09

    Watch KELOLAND tonight after the 10:00 news. The Old Guard Machine will respond to legitimate election integrity questions by side stepping the issues. The Political Machine will place before the television cameras a man in a suit and tie projecting an authoritative and upright ethical image citing election statutes and/or regulations with all the proper whistles and bells preying on the public's emotions and blind trust. The replies to reporter questions will appear to be precise and on target, but in reality the responses will be well-rehearsed sound bites blowing screening smoke at the people of South Dakota once again covering up incidents laced with corrupt election process decisions and actions. The Old Guard Power Mongers will have their propaganda machine well oiled and the SD SOS's flapping jaw will rotate in a circular motion billowing the smoke through a television broadcast attacking the national news media for having declared the winners in South Dakota's governor and senate races prior to the closing of two West River polls. If all registered voters eligible to vote in these two West River polls had all cast straight-party blue votes, doing so would not have changed the final outcome of the governor or senate races. So when SD SOS Gant spews his well rehearsed discombobulating remarks your way tonight, instead of listening to his slippery words ask yourself what this slick, partisan, GOP snake-oil salesman is not addressing, but is tying to once again cover up!

    While observing the television broadcast tonight, ask yourself the following "Mess UP and Move Up" questions: (1) Is SD SOS Gant auditioning for his next GOP career advancement? (2) With Dusty Johnson stepping down as the governor's chief of staff, has SD SOS Gant screwed up enough times to move up the GOP chain of command?

    Answer: Sure as hell smells like it!

  8. Bill Fleming 2014.11.09

    Barry, I agree. There's no real reason to use computers to count votes in SD. This isn't California, it's one of the lowest population states in the nation. The biggest 'human error' in our elections is deciding to use machines in the first place.

  9. JeniW 2014.11.09

    Good points Barry, but counting by hand is too slow for people who freak out because they have to wait more than a couple of hours to get the results.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.11.09

    JeniW that's the irony! If they had done it by hand they would have been done at least six hours sooner. They ended up having to actually 'recreate' a bunch of ballots, just so they could get them to run through the dang machine. :-)

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.09

    Badger, SOS Gant is done in the GOP. They've excommunicated him.

    Down with human error! That ballot "re-creation" is nuts—it increases the chance for error.

  12. Les 2014.11.09

    Gant moving up? LOL. That would sure as hell indicate that casual corruption in SD has NO bounds. But, who am I to say. This guy hasn't had an original idea since he came to town. "Good boy. Sit!"

  13. mike from iowa 2014.11.09

    Never mind a never mind like Gant who didn't know his main job is to make sure elections run smoothly and honestly. His best attribute appeared to be polishing a seat with his butt.

  14. Bill Fleming 2014.11.09

    Did those Shannon county votes that came in after 7:00 ever get counted? If so, I don't see them showing on the SOS website.

  15. grudznick 2014.11.09

    I don't think that Mr. Gant would make a very good staff chief for the Governor. I don't think that Mr. Gant would make a very good anything in public service. Have you paid attention to his career?

  16. Les 2014.11.09

    Tony V, chief.

  17. JeniW 2014.11.09

    During Gant's first term as a legislator, he was in my opinion very rough around the edges, and struggled. He started getting better after each legislative session. Although, I mostly did not agree with him, I gave him credit for making the effort to be a better legislator.

    When he announced his intent to campaign for the position of SOS, I had my doubts that he would be able to fulfill the responsibilities well. I think he tried, but even he acknowledges that it is not the best position for him, and is not going to seek re-election.

    The thing I have really noticed is the amount of weight that he has put on. I keep thinking, that he is a heart attack waiting to happen sooner than later. (No, I am not attacking people who are overweight or think that they are incompetent, it is just something that I have observed.)

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