Guymon asks court to order manual recount of June 5 electionThe complaint asks the court to overturn the results of the June 5 school board election.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Failed candidate Craig Guymon has filed a legal challenge against the results of the Mitchell school board race.
Guymon said he personally filed a complaint Friday morning at the Mitchell courthouse with the aid of attorney Sam Khoroosi, of Sioux Falls, who was unable to be in town.
The complaint first asks the court to overturn the results of the June 5 school board election, but not any of the other races or issues on the ballot. Secondly, it seeks a hand recount or, alternatively, a new election. Guymon also asks for reimbursement of costs and attorney’s fees.
“All Craig wants to see is a reliable vote count,” Khoroosi said by phone.
“Once we obtain a reliable vote count, we’ll be satisfied regardless of what the results are.
According to the results as reported by the Davison County Auditor’s Office, Guymon finished third in the four-way race for two seats on the Mitchell Board of Education. Incumbents Neil Putnam and Theresa Kriese received 39 and 38 percent of the votes, respectively, while Guymon received 12 percent and Ed Potzler received 11 percent.
Doubts about the election results have lingered since Election Night, when Guymon and some others spotted oddities in the numbers. After those oddities were brought to the attention of the Auditor’s Office, two new counts of all the votes cast in the county were conducted June 7. The new tallies didn’t change any of the winners, but the vote numbers decreased in all the races.
Auditor Susan Kiepke has generally blamed the errors in the first count on the county’s vote-counting machine or the machine’s software, but has never provided an exact diagnosis of the problem.
Khoroosi said the court has “a lot of discretion” as to what remedy it could choose to grant, if it chooses to grant one.
Officially, Khoroosi said, the complaint is an “election contest.”
“The law says you have to get those started, just like any other civil lawsuit, by filing a summons and complaint,” he said.
In accordance with state law (SDCL 12-22-11), the election winners — in this case Neil Putnam and Theresa Kriese — must be named as defendants in the case.
“To be clear, we are not alleging any improper conduct on their parts,” Khoroosi said, “but the law does require us to denominate the persons who are declared the winners of the election as the defendants.”
The defendants have 10 business days to respond once they have been served with papers, he said. If they don’t respond, the matter would still go to a judge for a hearing date and possible trial date. The trial would be in front of a judge and would not require a jury.