KIEPKE: Election results are accurateThis process has been completely open. The media and the public have been fully informed. Representatives from the media, including this newspaper, were present during the entire open canvassing of the votes. They witnessed the M650 accurately count each precinct. Twice.
By: Susan Kiepke , Davison County Auditor
I am writing in response to The Daily Republic’s June 14 editorial.
There were no oddities observed on election night, June 5. On Wednesday, June 6, I discovered discrepancies in the precinct reports. I immediately notified the media of my discovery, who had also questioned the election results, as did at least one candidate. Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the manufacturer of our electronic tabulating machine, and who provides election support throughout the state, was contacted as well.
On Thursday, June 7, a technician from ES&S was in the Auditor’s Office from approximately 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., to both assess why the M650 (our tabulating machine) did not calculate totals correctly on Tuesday and to assist with the reprocessing of the ballots.
At 11:30 a.m., the Davison County Canvassing Board convened, at which time, the board, as per the suggestion of the state’s attorney and secretary of state, rejected the results of Tuesday night’s election and instructed the auditor to reprocess the ballots.
After reprocessing the ballots twice and coming up with the same precinct totals both times, a new report was submitted to the canvassing board along with a spreadsheet prepared by hand showing grand totals.
After comparing the precinct reports to the recap sheets and poll books from each individual precinct, the Davison County Canvassing Board approved the June 5 Davison County election results. On June 12, the State of South Dakota Canvassing Board approved the Davison County election results and also on June 12, the City of Mitchell Canvassing Board approved the city and school board election results.
This process has been completely open. The media and the public have been fully informed. Representatives from the media, including this newspaper, were present during the entire open canvassing of the votes. They witnessed the M650 accurately count each precinct. Twice. They then witnessed it inaccurately add those precinct totals together, necessitating a hand totaling of the precinct votes.
As much as could possibly have been known about what went wrong was made available to the media as quickly as it was learned by my office. The only unanswered question is why, and other then to repeat that the M650 is broken, to that question there is no answer as of yet. When the manufacturer of the equipment can determine that, such determination will immediately be made public as well.
As auditor, I take full responsibility for the election process in Davison County. My staff is fully trained and competent and has done an excellent job under very trying circumstances. I take great pride in my staff and the election process. My staff and I had been working for approximately 14 hours when we started processing ballots Tuesday evening. A tech spent approximately 9½ hours with us on Thursday, June 7, and could not figure out the reason why we had a malfunction.
Now an action has been filed by a candidate challenging the election results. As such, any review of the election process by ES&S will be secondary to the review by the court system.
In summation, I believe my office conducted the June 2012 primary with the utmost integrity. A machine malfunctioned. The error was discovered. The process was repeated, the precinct totals were proven correct, and I am confident the results reported to the canvassing boards were accurate.