This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The hand count of ballots will only happen in Tripp County.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Tripp County Auditor Barb DeSersa said today she’s found some volunteers to help count hand count Nov. 8 election ballots in her county.

The county board voted 5-0 on Oct. 11 to hand count the midterm election.

Tripp County Commissioner Joyce Kartak made the motion and Dan Forgey seconded the motion to hand count the ballots. The motion came after an hour and 45 minute discussion was held on the concerns of the elections and the machine used to count the ballots, according to minutes from the Tripp County Commission

“It actually surprised me,” DeSarsa said of being able to find enough volunteers to help hand count the votes. “It wasn’t terrible.”

The votes will counted by hand at the precinct sites, she said. “I thought that was the best way,” DeSarsa said.

Roughly 80% of the site workers said they stay to help count votes, while others can’t stay to count, DeSarsa said. Given that, she needed eight to 10 additional volunteers.

According to election results from the last midterm election in 2018, Tripp County voters cast 2,489 votes in the governor’s race. In the 2020 election, Tripp County voters cast 2,696 votes in the U.S. President race.

According to the Oct. 11 county board minutes, Rick Wieble and Jessica Pollman with the South Dakota Canvassing Group joined the Tripp County Commission meeting by Zoom. 

DeSersa said no one has presented any evidence of errors in the voting tabulation by machine.

And, “no matter how much you tell them (election doubters) the (tabulation) machine is not connected to the internet, they don’t (listen),” DeSersa said.

She’s been an auditor for eight years and worked in the auditor’s office for one year prior to becoming auditor. She said she has not seen or heard of any voting tabulation errors or issues in her county or in other counties during those nine years.

The South Dakota Canvassing Group organized after Mike Lindell held a cyber symposium at the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls in August 2021. That group 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. 

The South Dakota Canvassing Group says it wants to change election laws in South Dakota. 

DeSersa said she felt disrespected by the county board’s decision because she did not have any say in the decision.

Those who bring up accusations or worries about errors in the voting tabulation process are also being disrespectful of the statewide process, DeSersa said. Election committees work hard at testing voting machines and the process, she said.

Tripp County’s courthouse is located in Winner in south central South Dakota. The Tripp County Auditor’s office says it runs dual administration for both Tripp and Todd County.

Tripp County will also be using the voting tabulation machine that night. “We were asked to do the machine count (too),” DeSersa said. The hand count will be the official count.

KELOLAND News reached out to the chairman of the Tripp County Commission for comment about the decision. Any response will be added to this story.

DeSersa described the hand count as “going back in time.”

Counties weigh hand counts

Other counties have weighed in on the issue of hand county ballots. 

Fall River County will do a hand count of three races in two precincts on election night, said county auditor Sue Ganje.

The hand count is in response to the South Dakota Canvassing Group which has attended several county board meetings, Ganje said.

Ganje said she is not aware of any evidence of any errors with the vote tabulation equipment used by the county.

“I guess the commissioners were kind of curious,” Ganje said. “A motion was made and this is what we will do.”

Ganje said she will be training individuals who will do the hand count.

The Black Hills Pioneer reported Butte County, located north of the Black Hills in western South Dakota, deferred the decision to conduct a hand count of the ballots or not to the county auditor Annie Capp. Capp said the decision to conduct a hand count will be determined by the number of volunteers who choose to stay to conduct the hand count.