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High Voter Turnout Slows Ballot Counting

November 7, 2012, 5:59 PM by Brady Mallory

High Voter Turnout Slows Ballot Counting
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

It did not set any records, but election 2012 brought out more than 77,400 voters in Minnehaha County, which totals about 77 percent of registered voters in the county.  That left a lot of ballots to count, and even though ballot-counting machines speed up the process, they do not stop the clock.

County Auditor Bob Litz said last results were uploaded at about 3:30 a.m., and everyone was finished at about 4 a.m.  There were about 30 people counting the ballots.  Litz said the process went smoothly and there were no major glitches, but some aspects of this election took some time.  Voters did not exactly rush to the polls, according to Litz.  This caused the last precinct to turn in results after 10 p.m. 

"From all the accounts of people that have more experience than I do, we got out of here early. Somewhere the perception that we were taking our sweet time and there was a hold up is simply not true," Litz said.

Four years ago, the counting process did not finish up until about 6 a.m. An election with a presidential race takes longer because, like we saw with election 2012, voter turnout is higher.

Plus, absentee ballots are becoming more popular than ever.  Even though they are convenient for voters, they can be a little bit of work.

"What a lot of people don't know is all during the day upstairs, I've got a lot of people opening up absentee ballots," Litz said.

Counting started early in the morning and lasted until about 10 p.m.  Officials counted about 17,000 absentee ballots, sorted them by precinct and loaded them into counting machines.

"For some reason, the machine stops and spits them out because there's flaws in the ballot or the folds in them cause mechanical difficulties," Litz said.

With every election, Litz says sometimes getting everything right away is not for the best.

"The accuracy of this election was just excellent and that is something we strive for, too. There's no shortcuts for doing that. Sometimes you run a batch through and the numbers don't work out and you run them back through and get the real counts," Litz said.

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