What exactly kept Minnehaha County from reporting election totals for 14 hours in the last general election, and how should the auditor’s office make sure it never happens again? The seven-member panel appointed to answer those questions reviewed the issues again Friday as it spent more than two hours on the matter with several issues brought up. Earlier questions on problems with the machines that counted the votes, and froze on election night, had been put to the manufacturer, but it did not respond until an hour before this meeting and did not address what happened on election night. The machines apparently were too sensitive, rejecting ballots with stray marks as “overvotes.” Pennington County had the same problem during the election, said its county auditor, Julie Pearson, but only briefly. It was fixed with a simple adjustment to the equipment. Making that change eliminated the rejection of ballots with hesitation marks.
Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said not every precinct used the correct pens, even though poll workers had been instructed to do so. Using pencils left marks that were too light for the machines. Also, the county had been told to buy expensive pens when apparently the cheapest Bics did the job in Pennington County.
“It’s a piece of technology. It can fail,” said Monte Waterbach, the county’s information technology director, of the election machines. In his line of work, he said, it is recommended to buy one more item than a department expects to need. The ballot-counters are not cheap, however. One machine costs $110,000, and a different solution is being sought.
Full Article: Voting: ‘It’s a piece of technology. It can fail’.