Minnehaha County uses day after election to count absentee ballots

Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 5:34 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Due to the high amount of people who voted absentee in this year’s election, the counting of ballots in Minnehaha County carried into Wednesday.

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz says he sent staff home around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and they returned at 8 a.m., giving them a much-needed, yet very brief, break before continuing to count ballots.

“We’re not running that late anymore. It’s just too difficult to do, and it’s a health decision too with COVID going around so that’s what precipitated it. That and it didn’t matter because all those absentee ballots were not processed like we thought they were,” Litz said.

Tuesday morning, Litz and staff had to recreate Military ballots, and merge them with all other absentees.

“If you’re a U.S. citizen overseas or in the military that is actually one of the few times you can transmit something by email. When it gets back here out of email form, we will put it into a piece of paper, and then what happens is that paper will not go through the machines, and so we recreate it on the ballot paper,” Litz added.

Around 11 a.m. Tuesday staff began counting over 41,000 absentee ballots in Minnehaha County using three tabulators, something Litz scrambled for last minute.

“We were down to one machine last Thursday, and we got one of them fixed and the other one we traded out with a company down in Omaha,” the Auditor said.

Each tabulator can count 300 ballots a minute, Litz says even with a few bumps in the road the voting process was a success.

“Pretty smooth, it’s a little slower than I would like. I think some of the ballots just had issues with them. It wasn’t extreme or anything but I think there were a few more issues with these bunch of absentee ballots for the machines than we experienced in the recent past,” said Litz.

A Staff member at the election center told Dakota News Now that not only was there a record number of Absentee ballots in Minnehaha County but also statewide as well.

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