PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s incoming secretary of state says adding post-election audits would be a positive change.
Republican Monae Johnson of Rapid City received 64% of the vote last week to win the 2022 general election over Democrat Tom Cool of Sioux Falls.
Her 212,348-119,975 victory came despite Cool’s ads casting Johnson as an election denier after she repeatedly refused to say whether Republican Donald Trump lost the 2020 U.S. presidential contest.
Johnson wants South Dakota to conduct post-election audits as a way to reassure voters.
“The purpose of this is to raise voter confidence in our elections, which many on the campaign trail raised concerns about,” Johnson told KELOLAND News.
She used the term silver to describe South Dakota’s current process and gold for where she hopes South Dakota will go.
“What I mean by a silver-star standard is that we don’t conduct an audit after the elections, but we do still use paper ballots. A gold-star standard would be one that conducts these audits on the machines and uses paper ballots,” Johnson said.
“The rest of America is taking a shot at implementing this. No one has quite figured out the perfect method. South Dakota has a chance to find that perfect one that instills confidence in all voters for every election,” she continued.
South Dakota was one of five states that didn’t require a post-election audit of some type after the 2020 elections, according to a national elections performance index compiled by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Maine, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia were the others.
The MIT report said states requiring a post-election audit have steadily risen since 2008.
Johnson challenged and defeated the incumbent secretary of state, Steve Barnett, at the South Dakota Republican convention in June with an emphasis on election integrity. Johnson told convention delegates she was opposed to online voting, online voter registration and online registration updates.
This week, Johnson told KELOLAND News that the federal Elections Assistance Commission recommended post-election audits in 2005. She said the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended them in 2013 and the National Association of Secretaries of State did so in 2021.
She provided a copy of a recent EAC report that said the federal agency had made grant awards totaling over $1,463,074 to county and state organizations. The money went to “support research, development, documentation, and dissemination of a range of procedures and processes for managing and conducting high-quality pre-election audits, logic and accuracy testing and post-election audit activities.”
South Dakota needs to get on board, according to Johnson. “We have multiple agencies, bipartisan in nature, recommending post-election audits. Yet we as a state have ignored these recommendations,” she said.
As for assembling a staff, Johnson said, “I am working on a team but nothing is finalized yet.” She plans to visit the Capitol on Monday and meet with Barnett and his deputy that afternoon.