Ethical questions arose Thursday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell when two men with ties to Tuesday’s election participated on recount-related boards. Billy Lurken, news director for KMIT radio in Mitchell, was covering the recount process Thursday morning for the radio station when the need arose for a resolution board. A resolution board examines ballots that a vote-counting machine can’t process, possibly because of marks that are difficult for the machine to read. The members of the resolution board examine the machine-rejected ballots and decide to reject or accept them, and also determine the voter’s intent if the ballot is accepted.
While the recount was in progress, Auditor Susan Kiepke emerged from her office, where the ballots were being counted, and sought volunteers for the resolution board from among a roomful of candidates, journalists and others who were gathered to wait for the results.
Kiepke said she needed a Democrat and a Republican for the board, and Lurken identified himself as a Democrat and volunteered. Sue Wermers, a deputy auditor, served as the Republican on the board. It did not appear that the political registration of either one was ever verified. Lurken, when questioned by The Daily Republic, said he didn’t consider it a conflict of interest or think it would impact his coverage of the event. “No, I think it’s more interesting,” he said.