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Numbers Controversy In Davison Co. Recount

June 11, 2012, 5:18 PM by David Brown

Numbers Controversy In Davison Co. Recount
MITCHELL, SD -

Nearly a week after the primary, some Davison County candidates are still challenging the results. A machine malfunction led to some voting errors on Tuesday.  But after a recount Thursday, the county auditor said the numbers were fixed and that none of the races were impacted. But a group of candidates is still campaigning against those results.

The contentions include both the number of registered voters in Davison County, as well as the total ballots. A group of candidates claim the Davison County vote-counting machine printout lists 12,370 registered voters. But the Secretary of State's website shows 11,208 registered voters, a discrepancy of more than 1,000 voters.

As for the number of ballots cast, the initial vote counted on Tuesday by the Davison County state auditor recorded 5,573 ballots. The recount on Thursday decreased that number to 4,495, another discrepancy of more than 1,000. And these differences are now causing some candidates to consider petitioning the recount results.

It's not quite on the same level as the Florida recount during the 2000 Presidential Election, but the Davison County results aren't any clearer six days after the June 5 primary.

"We don't know how many ballots were actually cast and that is the big question here now," Davison County treasurer Brenda Veldheer said.

Veldheer did not win re-election in the primary on Tuesday, nor did she get much closer in Thursday's recount. But she says the reason she and other Davison County candidates are considering their options is to utilize the democratic process.

"It's frustrating," Veldheer said. "You want the count to come in right; you want it to be right the first time for the Davison County voters. They have a right to know if their vote was truly counted."

"We just want to get to the truth and want transparency," Mitchell mayoral candidate Tara Volesky said. "It has nothing to do with being a sore loser or anything like that. It's all about seeking the truth."

Volesky finished 4th in the mayoral race Tuesday. But along with runner-up Jerry Toomey, as well as treasurer Veldheer and others, she thinks something should be done. This Friday is the deadline to petition the election results, an option that's being considered.

"We're not trying to cause a problem or anything," Volesky said. "We just want to make sure the election and the ballots were counted correctly and go from there."

"The precinct numbers came out to the satisfaction of the canvas board," Davison County auditor Susan Kiepke said. "I did an Excel spreadsheet to get the grand totals, which they were satisfied with."

Kiepke says there is no issue with the ballots and that everything was done correctly during Thursday's recount.

"It's been very disheartening because you want your election process to run perfectly," Kiepke said. "That's your goal and it didn't."

Both Veldheer and Volesky mentioned that one of the only ways they could be satisfied is with a complete revote. However, Secretary of State Jason Gant says, categorically, there is no such thing as a re-vote. There's nothing within South Dakota state law that would allow for that.

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