SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Tuesday, Mike Lindell’s cell phone was seized while the MyPillow founder and 2020 election denier was in a Hardee’s drive through in Mankato, Minnesota.
Lindell said in his online show, The Lindell Report, he was on his way back from a duck hunting trip in Iowa when his car was surrounded by FBI cars. He said FBI agents started asking him questions about Colorado, Tina Peters and Dominion Voting Systems.
Peters, a Colorado county clerk, is facing a state indictment over an election security breach in Colorado. She lost the Republican nomination for Colorado Secretary of State earlier this year.
Lindell was asked by FBI agents about a voting machine image from Colorado he published on his website and Lindell told The Washington Post he was not involving in copying the election management system in Colorado, which is part of the investigation against Peters.
Lindell told The Washington Post he didn’t meet Peters until she attended his cyber symposium at the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls in August 2021.
That same symposium, which looked at unproven claims voting machines were hacked in the November 2020 election, is what spurred the group called South Dakota Canvassing Group. That group has worked with lawmakers with the South Dakota Freedom Caucus to sign an “election integrity” letter and hold a public meeting on elections in South Dakota.
South Dakota uses ES&S (Election Systems and Software), not Dominion Voting Systems, to help run elections in the state. The focus on ES&S has been “Cast Vote Records” also known as CVRs. Those records are either in printed text or an Excel sheet and only a few counties have the digital Excel sheets.
The Freedom Caucus public meeting on elections was held on September 2 in Pierre and South Dakota Public Broadcasting highlighted the discussion on CVRs.
Senator Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican from Watertown and Senate President Pro Tempore, told SDPB election fraud is not a main concern for many South Dakotans.
“There’s twenty of them and they all speak to each other,” Schoenbeck told SDPB about people concerned with the state’s elections.
Schoenbeck praised local election workers.
“They’re honest people who volunteered to do this work,” Schoenbeck told SDPB. “People who are calling them cheats should be spanked.”
The fight over the CVRs has led to a lawsuit between “We the people for free, fair and transparent elections, LLC” and the Lincoln County Auditor’s Office. A judge has ordered Lincoln County to preserve election records after issuing an order to preserve election material for all 66 counties and then vacating that order.
On September 8, Lincoln County held an election administration meeting hosted by Sheri Lund, the Lincoln County Auditor, and Jason Gant, a former secretary of state and current Charles Mix County Auditor.
Lund highlighted how her office regularly tests the ES&S tabulation system and testing is open for the public to watch. Lund said Lincoln County does not print a CVR and the data goes onto a flash drive.
“That is sealed with our ballots,” Lund said, pointing to state law. “Those are only opened if we are court ordered to open them.”
Lund said the election software could also create the CVR but county auditors aren’t required to create them. She said the information in the CVRs is found in the county canvass, which is published on the county’s website and the state canvass is published on the Secretary of State’s website.
Lund said the CVR report wouldn’t have ballot images because South Dakota law doesn’t allow ballot imagining to take place. Ballot images happen in states that allow write-in ballot answers; South Dakota does not allow write-in votes.
The South Dakota Office of Hearings has ruled the digital CVRs are “proprietary information.”
Gant said county auditors are in favor of doing anything that shows how accurate the state’s elections systems are.
“I’m trying to figure out what benefit the CVR has,” Gant said.
Lund said she’d support a post-election audit because Lincoln County has multiple recounts in recent elections that resulted in the same results.
The South Dakota Canvassing group says it worries about future elections in South Dakota. On Tuesday, the South Dakota Canvassing group will hold a news conference in Sioux Falls.
The group says it has “hundreds of signed affidavits by registered voters of ghost votes, lost votes, and stolen votes.”