The winners are the same: Tracy, Gunkel, Vehle, Putnam, Kriese and one-way streets. The vote totals and margins, however, did change after the votes cast in Tuesday’s local elections were counted twice more Thursday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell. The new counts had been deemed necessary Wednesday after Auditor Susan Kiepke acknowledged errors in Tuesday’s results. Thursday, Kiepke blamed the errors on the county’s vote-counting machine or the software used with it. Vote totals seem to have been changed at “random,” she said. “It appears to be a software problem,” she said. A technician from Election Systems & Software, of Omaha, Neb., spent the day in the office trying to figure out what went wrong and assisting with the recount. He said he is not permitted to disclose his name and declined to answer most questions, but he defended the machine. “Nothing. I didn’t find nothing wrong with the machine,” he said.
… The county bought the Model 650 vote scanner for $45,000 in 2005, with the city chipping in some money for the machine. A maintenance and software agreement is part of the package, according to State’s Attorney Pat Smith. The technician got the machine running by 11:15 a.m. Kiepke had called the Minnehaha County auditor in Sioux Falls and a back-up plan was hatched to drive the ballots to Sioux Falls and scan them there, and then return to Mitchell for a canvassing. Once the machine was operational, and test ballots were put through it, tape was removed from four cardboard boxes containing the ballots and the count began.
State’s Attorney Smith, who spent much of the day offering advice and support to Kiepke and her staff, said the problem was that more ballots were counted than were submitted. That meant the election results were not accurate, he said, and led to an announcement Wednesday of the need for a fresh count. Kiepke and South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant objected to the use of the term “recount,” which they said is only used for a fresh totaling of numbers after a request from a losing candidate in a close race. That’s how the word is defined in state law. Whether it was a resumption of the count, a fresh count, a second or third count, Kiepke and her staff went through all of the 4,496 ballots twice on Thursday. “I guess in grade school, we’d call it a do-over,” Smith said.