The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee is uncovering ballot problems that should have advocates for ballot integrity (and that should be all of us) screaming:
[Committee chairman Bruce] Danielson had compiled information from the April 8, 2014, city election that showed 30 voters were checked in twice, generally a minute or two apart, and three voters appeared to have voted twice by going to different polling places [Jill Callison, "Election Review Board May Propose Legislation Changes," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.02.20].
Double voting? How on earth did that happen?
When the e-poll books were moved to alleviate the load at voting centers, it took time for those computers to upload all the current information so it could be synchronized with the system.
Without the correct procedures in place, two poll books could be side by side, but it would appear voters checked in at two separate locations, [election hardware/software hawker Brian] Mortimore said [Callison, 2015.02.20].
Poll books? Weren't those Republican former Secretary of State Jason Gant's brilliant innovation? Didn't he make sure he trained everyone properly and considered every contingency to ensure those gizmos didn't thwart the will of the electorate?
“We did a lot of training, and I’m not sure the SOS covered moving a poll book,” said Sioux Falls city clerk Lorie Hogstad, a committee member [Callison, 2015.02.20].
So just how extensive were the problems created by sloppy training and flawed equipment?
Committee member Sue Roust, former Minnehaha County auditor, worked at a polling place during that election. She said records indicated 3,200 people had actually voted when the true number was 4,200, making her wonder whether the machines are capable of keeping up [Callison, 2015.02.20].
1,000 mistakes out of 4,200 voters. The error rate for hand-counted ballots (which don't allow us to give juicy contracts to our friends in the election software business) runs between 0.5% and 2%. Roust is pointing to an election miscount worse than 20%.
The Republican spin machine, which freaks out over the possibility that Indians and poor people and other enemies of their corporate state might find it easy to vote once, let alone twice, is so far silent about the possibility that the election machine they themselves have purchased and promoted could so easily allow voter fraud and election error. This public silence reflects the non-response of the elected official who created them:
In his research on past elections, Danielson said, he had uncovered data that had been sloppily recorded. His attempts to inform the state were thwarted when no one from the Secretary of State’s office, then led by Jason Gant, would return his telephone calls [Callison, 2015.02.20].
The powers that be appear not to care that we can't trust the results of our elections:
That was the concern Brandon resident Joy Howe brought to the meeting, saying “the elephant in this whole discussion” is that ballots are being counted in secret without a public count.
Using machines to count ballots can allow someone to steal an election, she said.
“You stick them into a machine owned by a company with dubious ownership,” Howe said, her voice rising. “It is not a public count, and we are guaranteed a public count” [Callison, 2015.02.20].
The Minnehaha County election review committee continues to work on final recommendations for making our elections more reliable. All South Dakotans should be keenly interested in the results.