Eleven counties recommended to receive HAVA election aid

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PIERRE — South Dakota's election-assistance board recommended grants up to $9,000 apiece for eight counties from the federal Help America Vote Act fund Thursday.

They are Brule $9,000; Davison $9,000; Fall River $9,000; Hughes $9,000; McCook $9,000; Potter $9,000; Sully $8,770; and Ziebach $6,300.

The board voted to not-recommend Help America Vote Act assistance of $9,000 sought by Jackson County.

The board also endorsed a second round of money for three counties in Indian country — one being Jackson — to operate in-person satellite voting centers.

They are:

Buffalo $2,100 to run a center at Fort Thompson during the general election;

Dewey $7,768.40 for a center at Eagle Butte during the primaries and general election; and

Jackson $16,121 for a center at Wanblee during the primaries and general election.

The 11 recommendations and one not-recommend now go to South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs for decisions.

Counties that receive Krebs' approval must send receipts of actual expenses after the 2018 elections to Kristin Gabriel.

Gabriel reviews eligibility of each expense. She is senior elections coordinator and HAVA grants coordinator for South Dakota.

Gabriel in turn submits receipts for a second review by Kea Warne, the deputy secretary of state for elections.

Counties must be at zero balance in their state-held HAVA accounts to be eligible for more HAVA money.

They can use HAVA cash to offset up to $9,000 of expenses per election cycle.

The maximum grant is $9,000, except for extraordinary circumstances.

Nine counties are at zero balance, Gabriel said. They are Hamlin County and the eight that received positive recommendations Thursday.

Jackson showed a balance of $2,245.50.

"Jackson County is not at a zero balance for their state-held HAVA fund," Gabriel said. "They must be at a zero balance prior to receiving the HAVA grant funding."

The $9,000 restriction however doesn't apply to counties in Indian reservation areas where in-person satellite voting centers operate.

Indian-country counties can receive more than $9,000 to run voting centers. The voting-center grants are for one site per county. Counties don't have to be at zero balance.

Five counties have more than $100,000 in their accounts. They are Beadle $126,345.52; Brown $149.148.15; Codington $101,979.29; Minnehaha $473,448.32; and Pennington $209,380.16.

Six members of the HAVA board participated in the meeting Thursday. They were:

Minnehaha County auditor Bob Litz, a Republican; Lake County auditor Bobbi Janke, a Democrat; Ziebach County auditor Cindy Longbrake, a Democrat; David Reiss, intergovernmental affairs coordinator for state government's Department of Tribal Relations; Denise DeJong of Yankton, representing the disabilities community; and Gabriel.

Longbrake abstained from the discussion and vote on Ziebach County. She replaced Jerry Schwarting, who was Mellette County auditor. He still works in the auditor's office.

The seventh board member is Turner County auditor Sheila Hagemann, a Republican. She didn't participate Thursday.

The federal HAVA funding was distributed to states in 2005. South Dakota has $9 million left, including $2.4 million held by counties.

The 2016 state-level elections saw 354 people use the three Indian-country voting centers for the June primaries while 2,342 voted in the general elections.

"We just gave away around $100,000," Litz said when the time came for general remarks.

He said smaller counties should be helped but the larger counties aren't as needy.

As for the satellite centers, Litz said: "It's a lot of money per vote." He added: "I know what the arguments are."