A Pierre software company is weaving an electronic path between millions of election-night ballots and the media who report them. The company, BPro, is owned by Brandon and Abbey Campea and employs 12 programmers who write election software called “TotalVote.” “When a person votes on Election Day, the ballot is counted by a tabulator and then transferred into our system,” explains Campea. “Our software reports the results and provides them to the media outlets.” He adds, “We’re the official people who know the results before anyone else.” BPro staff are the first-receivers of election results in South Dakota and six other states—Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii, New Mexico and most recently Oregon, as well as Sacramento County in California and 11 Minnesota counties. It’s a quick turn-around that’s months in the making. “We begin preparing way ahead. For instance, New Mexico’s primary is in June, but we began testing the system in January … six months early.”
In South Dakota, BPro will run two simulations and a mock-election before the June and November elections. In North Dakota, the company will conduct three weeks of regional training over the coming months while a state like New Mexico will hold a state-wide meeting and simulations.
Regardless of the location, Campea is confident of the fit. “Every state’s election runs differently. For example, North Dakota has different rules for voter registration than South Dakota and Nebraska. We customize our software to fit those needs.”
Despite the best planning, mistakes happen. Campea counts on it. “Elections are about the exceptions,” he says. “Tabulators don’t work. Results come in late. The wrong file can be uploaded.” That’s why Campea and his crew are always present on election night. “We send programmers out to our various locations; I haven’t been in South Dakota on election night since 2008.”