Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, June 10

State, county need to clean up election ‘mess’

“It was a mess, and I apologize to the candidates, to election workers, and, most importantly, to voters.” - Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson

Apologies - while always nice - just aren’t enough sometimes.

On Tuesday, the Pennington County Auditor’s Office and the Secretary of State’s Office presided over an election that was marred by enough mistakes to shake the confidence of a public that can only wonder how it was handled so poorly.

It started first thing in the morning. Due to difficulties with relatively new technology and exacerbated by the absence of a back-up plan, poor communication, and toothless support from the state, voters were turned away in Rapid City and told to come back later.

The initial culprit was the new e-poll book made by BPro, an electronic software company from Pierre. It failed to work properly in the eight counties it was used, including in Pennington where the election stumbled out of the gate.

While voting officials in the seven other counties were able to overcome the issues with the e-poll books, it was a different story here. Election workers were unprepared for the technology problems and unable to respond to puzzled voters who in some cases were told to call the county auditor’s office for help. Media outlets quickly learned, however, that those calls would shed little light on the developing situation.

A call to the Secretary of State’s Office about whether the voters should be issued provisional ballots added another layer of confusion, something that may have been averted if Secretary of State Shantel Krebs wasn’t busy with her own election, a failed bid to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. House....

The delays and confusion could have been averted, however, if the auditor’s office had provided printouts of registered voters to back up the e-poll books, which were being used for only the second time in the county. The initial use was for the special election on water rates, which had an extremely low voter turnout.Later, the auditor’s office told the Journal that it decided to save money by not printing out voter registration rolls. It later would rush to print them out, but by then voters had already been turned away. The Secretary of State’s Office, meanwhile, said it could only recommend that counties using the new e-poll books print out voters rolls as a backup.As the evening approached and after voting hours were extended, the results on the Secretary of State’s website did not reflect the numbers totaled by the county auditor’s office. According to the county, many of the problems that occurred later in the day were attributed to human error.The problems that happened on Election Day can all be attributed to human error if preparation is considered. It’s clear no Plan B was in place in the event the e-poll books malfunctioned

Read more from our friends at the Washington Times