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June 11, 2018 06:01 PM

Minnehaha County Auditor Blames "Math Mistakes" for 164 Uncounted Ballots

Problems continue to plague the 2018 primary in Minnehaha County. On Monday, County Auditor Bob Litz blamed "math mistakes" for why 164 ballots slipped by uncounted. This is the latest issue from last week's election that Litz has had to address.

KELOLAND News previously brought you the story of at least two voters getting the wrong ballots when they went to vote. Litz informed the County Commission about what happened and said the problem is fixed. 

Litz says his team found the uncounted ballots when they it was updating voter histories.

On Friday, the conversation about the election got tense between county auditor Bob Litz and County Commissioner Jeff Barth. Commissioners had brought up concerns about this election's integrity. Monday's discussion was a little more tame, but commissioners want to know what the county can do to avoid more election issues in the future. 

Before the Minnehaha County Commission approved the canvassing of the vote, Litz told commissioners his team worked all weekend to fix a big mistake. He says 164 uncounted ballots have now been added to the total vote.

"The outcomes in none of the races were affected," Litz said. 

Litz says they didn't find any extra ballots, just what he calls "a lot of math mistakes" from precinct tabulation sheets, which led to the uncounted ballots.  

"It was a gaffe that night. It certainly was; regrettably so. But like you said, the system of checks and balances did work and these are being counted and we're going to enfranchise those voters' opinions," Litz said. 

"It's got to be difficult for you and your staff and honestly at some point, it could've been tempting to try to cover it up. You didn't. I appreciate that," Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth said.

Litz says he called the Secretary of State's Office for guidance on this, and says there's no statute that addresses this.

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs says that's true, because this issue with uncounted ballots after an election hasn't happened here before.

However, Krebs says this concerns her because there are statutes for tabulation, and her office trains county auditors to do that process. She says Minnehaha County shouldn't have moved forward without having the the number of ballots on the recap sheets match the ballot machine count. 

Eventually, the conversation went back to Mark Millage. Millage is the voter and former KELOLAND News director, who reported getting the wrong ballot. He spoke about it at Friday's meeting, and told the commission he alerted an election worker, who called the auditor's office. Litz says one of his employees told the worker which correct ballot to give Millage. Millage says the worker told him to use the wrong ballot anyway. Litz took issue with Millage talking about it. 

"Why does he come down here and why do people go to their legislator. I'm the guy that can fix it and I can fix it that morning if they give me a call and give me a shot. Instead, they choose political opportunism. They want to do some grand standing and make a point," Litz said. 

Barth responded. 

Barth: "Mark Millage said they did call the auditor's office and they told him to vote the ballot they handed him."
Litz: "That call to the auditor's office, they were told what the correct ballot was. That's what happened. Now, Mr. Millage, I'm not sure if he was privy to the phone conversation, I doubt if they had it on speaker phone, but they were told what ballot to give him and they gave him the wrong one anyway."
Barth: "Well, don't complain they didn't call you and they're making a political thing out of this, because it's actually just a technical thing that you need to work on, we need to work on and our county needs to work on."
Litz: "I'd agree, I'd agree." 

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