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June 08, 2018 06:08 PM

County Auditor Blames "Human Error" For Election Night Ballot Issues

You expect candidates to butt heads during an election, but on Friday, Minnehaha County leaders got into it over who made mistakes during Tuesday's election. Minnehaha County commissioners approved the canvassing of election results. Commissioner Jeff Barth and County Auditor Bob Litz had a heated exchange over reports of voters getting the wrong ballots.

Two voters reported getting the wrong ballot on Tuesday, including Mark Millage. The former KELOLAND News Director says he told the election worker, who called the auditor's office, and then told him to use the wrong ballot anyway. 

"My concern was, um, we were given an opportunity to vote in a race that wasn't ours to be voting in. In other words, potentially affect the outcome of that race," Millage said. 

Litz says one of his employees told the worker which correct ballot to give Millage, but says the worker never told his staff that precinct didn't even have that ballot. 

"A lot of my election workers, they're retired, they're getting older, they don't always make the right choice out there. There's human error. I loathe to throw them under the bus, because it's difficult to get them," Litz said. 

Litz defended his staff, and told commissioners there were 300 workers election night, 71 precincts, and 23 styles of ballots. He says it's impossible for him to be everywhere at the same time and personally handle every issue. 

"You've had this exact same problem in the past. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I have to do something about it," Barth said. 

Barth was referring to similar ballot issues during the 2014 November election.

"At the end of the day, I'm sitting here holding a bag. You, you, are up here playing a political ploy. Okay, I'm republican, you're democrat. I get that. That's the way the game is played. Don't act like you're not playing that game, Mr. Barth," Litz said. 

When commissioners expressed concern about the integrity of this election, Litz said he doesn't believe the ballot issue impacted the results. Vice Chair Jean Bender brought up Debra Owen, who ran for precinct committeewoman. When Owen went to vote, she reported not seeing her name on the ballot. Owen lost by five votes. 

Bender: "I just want to see if you can give me some comfort, if you feel like the error did not affect that race."
Litz: "That one there is troublesome. I don't know what to tell you. Like you said, the margin of error was five votes. It could've been affected, yes." 

At one point, Litz addressed Rose Grant, his opponent running against him for county auditor in November. 

"For this new auditor here, if she gets elected, good luck. Because you have no idea what you're getting into, because I sure as hell didn't. I wish you the best, because you just might get this job by default, okay," Litz said. 

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