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Aguilar Addresses Election Controversy

April 13, 2012, 6:04 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Aguilar Addresses Election Controversy
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

The election results are in, but actions by city officials on election day are in question.

City Council Chair Sue Aguilar has drawn fire this week for delivering ballots to some voting centers. But Aguilar and the city clerk say without that swift action, hundreds may have been unable to vote.

City Clerk Lorie Hogstad says the situation arose because several voting centers were short ballots. Hogstad says when she alerted council leadership, Sue Aguilar and Michelle Erpenbach, Aguilar volunteered to help. It's an offer the clerk's office took her up on.

"Secretary of State Jason Gant even went out with his staff and other people in our office making deliveries," Hogstad said.

And Hogstad says after she told her bosses about the problems, Aguilar offered to help.

"I've been an advocate for years of making the voting process as accessible to citizens as possible so volunteering to help on Tuesday just went along with my belief system," Aguilar said.

Aguilar said she was dispatched to deliver blank ballots to both Whittier Middle School and Lincoln High School. She also went to Harvey Dunn to deliver tape for the machines.

"I didn't have any contact with any of the marked ballots, the ballot boxes, or did I talk to any of the voters or any of that," said Aguilar.

"She did pick up unmarked ballots that were still banded from the superintendent of a particular polling place, just as I did," Hogstad said. 

Hogstad said after this election, those kinks should all be ironed out for the next election. She also says no ballots were tampered with and does not believe anyone was in the wrong.

"There's a checks and balances system that we can account for every ballot," Hogstad said.

Those changes will not be put to the test until the next city election, but Hogstad says the new voting center concept was tested and will be tweaked accordingly to deal with Tuesday's problems.

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