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SF City Clerk Talks Election Night Challenges

April 9, 2014, 6:04 PM by Brady Mallory

SF City Clerk Talks Election Night Challenges

From long lines, to near ballot shortages - Tuesday's election left behind some questions.

The last minute rush, absentee voting, and the ballot size itself are just a few of the challenges city officials faced.  About 32,000 votes were cast.

"We still seem to have a bit of energy," Lorie Hogstad, Sioux Falls City Clerk, said.

Hogstad's office is a bit quieter the day after the big city vote.  While she and her team work on post-election details, she touched on the previous night.

Election night started like a sprint, but slowed to marathon pace down later in the evening.  The polls were set to close at 7 pm, but the first voting center did not submit ballots until 8 pm.  The last center closed after 10 pm.  In addition to a last minute voter scramble, Hogstad said the longer-than-normal ballot sheet made it difficult for machines to process.  In some cases, machines spit out ballots.  Hogstad said there is a process to make sure every vote is counted.

"They look at every single ballot and they determine what the intent of the voter was, did they actually mark the oval in anyway? And they recreate the ballot," Hogstad said.

Counting 3,000 absentee ballots also took longer.

"You can imagine a 17-inch ballot, folded into the size of a business envelope.  So, those always slow things down a bit," Hogstad said.

Absentee ballots cannot be counted ahead of time.  Not having enough ballots was a problem at some voting centers.  Some places ran low, but Gloria Dei ran out for just a short time.  Hogstad said runners were bringing more ballots to voting centers, but had farther to go to get to Gloria Dei. 

That was not the only issue at Gloria Dei, where at one point, the wireless internet connection for the e-poll books went out.

"Even if the internet is off and the wireless isn't transmitting, all of those votes count.  As soon as it's back on, it loads those up," Hogstad said.

Some people had to use provisional ballots, because the system could not find their records.
Those ballots will be counted, but they must be verified by the county. 

Hogstad said there were many positives to last night's election, including the voting centers - due to their convenience.  She said she may need to add more locations for next time.

Looking ahead, Hogstad admits last night was a learning experience.

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