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New Vote-Counting Machine Makes Debut

June 3, 2014, 10:00 PM by Kathleen Serie

New Vote-Counting Machine Makes Debut
MITCHELL, SD -

After counting problems in the past, Davison County has a new weapon this primary election. Officials hope the $72,000 device will speed up ballot counting.

Human error and several issues with the old machine in the 2012 primary prompted Davison County officials to replace it sooner, rather than later.

"When we made our decision to go from the former machine to this one, we're looking to the future. This is where the future's going to be for all of the major counties and so we needed to make that move and this is the time to get it done," Davison County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Claggett said.

After switching out their 15-year-old machine, this new device is going to make counting ballots much easier and faster.

It can recognize minute markings, process about 300 ballots in one minute and is easier to use than the old machine.

"There's a touch screen.  It basically tells you what to do next.  You just have to enter a few codes, which is for security purposes obviously, whereas the other one was a little trickier to navigate, so it's just a great machine overall," Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke said.

Many people have questioned why Kiepke wants to use the machine for the primary, rather than the general election.

"I wanted to have a test run with fewer ballots in order to assure that everything's going to run properly. Then when we get to the general, I will have no reservations about using it," Kiepke said.

Davison County is the first to make the upgrade. The auditor predicts that most counties will eventually do the same. 

KELOLAND News checked back in with the Davison County Auditor's office following the poll closings and found out that they did experience some difficulties with the machine not working too well. The device is so sensitive that it can actually read the stamps on the back of each ballot. Those ballots that cannot be read by the machine are being handled by the county's resolution board.

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