Voters Reject Hand-Counting Measures In South Dakota


On Tuesday, voters in three tiny South Dakota counties rejected measures that would have mandated manual ballot counting in upcoming elections.

Even while other U.S. locations have thought about switching to hand-counting votes in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s allegations of 2020 election fraud, the votes in Gregory, Haakon, and Tripp counties were an unusual step.

The initiatives aimed to forbid the use of tabulating machines and mandate manual counting, which local election officials claimed would incur additional costs and necessitate the hiring of more election workers, who would be hard to locate. Election experts claim that machine tabulation of the votes yields greater accuracy than manual ballot counting.

Other propositions may also be on the ballot in South Dakota. According to Jessica Pollema, president of SD Canvassing, a group that supports the efforts, citizens in numerous other counties are organizing petitions for hand-counting procedures. She stated that other hand-count measures would “possibly” show up on ballots in November. When contacted by phone or email for comment on the election results, Pollema did not answer right away.

Todd and Tripp County Auditor Barb DeSersa, who opposed the measure, said, “Well, obviously, the voters have spoken, but I feel that they believe … we’d be going backwards in time and there is confidence in the machine. There was no reason not to have confidence.”

According to her, the usual turnout for a primary election in Tripp County is 37%. An internet report states that there are 7,744 active registered voters in the three remote counties combined.

The first post-election audit will take place in South Dakota’s primary election. This new procedure stems from a 2023 law that mandates all counties hand-count the results of two races in 5% of precincts to compare them with the official results. But according to the county commission, Tripp County would manually count every vote to complete its audit, DeSersa said. Tripp conducted a manual ballot count for the general election in 2022.

Following a vote by the county commission earlier this year, Fall River County conducted a manual count of the primary election ballots. 1,913 ballots had to be manually counted over six hours, according to County Auditor Sue Ganje.

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