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Minnehaha County Considers Counting Absentee Ballots Earlier

May 6, 2014, 6:07 PM by Leland Steva

Minnehaha County Considers Counting Absentee Ballots Earlier

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz unveiled his proposed plan before the Minnehaha County Commission Tuesday.

He'd like to start counting absentee ballots before the polls close on election night.  After counting ballots during last year's general election went into the early morning, Litz feels a change is needed.

Litz is looking to speed up the ballot-counting process.

"I look for solutions because I think everybody is planning their parties. Everybody wants to know what's going on. They want their answers now and they want them accurate, and I think we owe the public that to some degree to make that happen," Litz said.

Litz says he looked at how Pennington County handled its absentee ballots for ideas. Under his plan, even though the ballots would be counted the day before the polls close, the results of the votes wouldn't be announced until after the polls close on Election Day.

"We're not doing anything that we don't normally do except we're doing it earlier, and we're withholding the results until we're supposed to release at 8 o'clock the following night," Litz said.

Litz can adopt the plan without the county commission's okay, but he wanted to get the commissioners' take on the idea.

"I think with the increase in absentee ballots that we've been seeing, I think this is a good idea," Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth said. 

Litz admits he took some heat for not finishing up the ballot counting for last year's general election in November until4 a.m., but Barth says last year wasn't the worst.

"The first time I was elected County Commissioner I didn't know I won until 7:30 in the morning, so these Johnny-come-lately candidates that are complaining about the slow-count, they haven't been there," Barth said.

Although nothing is decided yet, Litz hopes a quicker start on absentee ballots will let elected officials start their celebrations a little earlier than in the past.

Litz will be meeting with his staff on Friday to further discuss the plan. The primary election is June 3.

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