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Hand-count ballot measures unsuccessful in 3 South Dakota counties

Voters in Tripp, Gregory, and Haakon Counties all killed local efforts to mandate hand-counted votes in their areas this election night.

For Tripp and Todd County auditor Barb Desersa, who lived through a hand-count in 2022, it’s a relief.

“I’m glad everybody took the time to come out and vote," Desersa said. "Just come watch the process. Last (Tuesday) night was the first time we’ve ever had anybody come watch us do the machine. When we did the testing, we actually had quite a roomful of people which is the very first time as well. So, take the time to understand the facts.”

In Haakon County, auditor Stacy Pinney isn’t convinced hand-counts are more accurate anyway.

“It’s just the human errors," Pinney said. "We did several demonstrations – I had one of my public town hall meetings do some hand counting. I had some fellow office personnel do some hand counting. In every instance there were errors. So, I’m not confident in the process if it were to be on election night.”

Both echoed the sentiment of Gregory County auditor Julie Bartling – the machines are both reliable and safe.

“As a group of auditors, we are just doing our job and we’re doing it in accordance with how we are taught – following statute," Bartling said. "We take a great deal of pride in the work that we do day in and day out – certainly with elections because that’s so clearly important to each and every voter.”

The measures fell well short of passing in each county. The closest vote was in Gregory County, where it failed by eight percentage points.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture
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