S.D. ballots bear misspelling of a Biden elector

Capitol News Bureau
KELO vote voting election ballot box

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Joe Yracheta of Selby, an elector for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, is forgiving but isn’t forgetting that his last name is misprinted as Yarcheta on South Dakota’s general-election ballots.

KELOLAND News discovered the error Monday after asking Secretary of State Steve Barnett and several top staff for the names of South Dakota’s electors for a different story.

South Dakota has three votes in the nation’s electoral college count that elects the U.S. president and vice president.

Yracheta wasn’t exactly a stranger to the election staff at the South Dakota Secretary of State office.

He ran as a Democratic candidate in 2018 for the District 23 state Senate seat and lost to Republican incumbent Justin Cronin of Gettysburg. Yracheta’s name was spelled correctly on ballots for that election and on campaign documents he filed.

What happened this time? “That was an error on our part with the spelling of his last name,” state director of elections Kea Warne said.

Absentee voting began September 18 throughout South Dakota for the November 3 general election.

The Biden-Harris electors are Joseph M. Yracheta, Nicole “Nikki” A. Gronli of Dell Rapids and Randolph “Randy” J. Seiler of Fort Pierre. Seiler is the South Dakota Democratic Party chairman and Gronli is vice-chair.

Republican electors for the Trump-Pence ticket are Governor Kristi Noem of Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden of Union Center and state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg of Yankton. The Libertarian Jorgensen-Cohen ticket has two electors, Devin Saxon of Lennox, the Libertarian candidate for a state Public Utilities Commission seat, and Tracey Quint of Sioux Falls.

The most-recent presidential general election in which South Dakota voters didn’t cast their ballots for a Republican was 1964 when they favored Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson, who became president after the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Yracheta said Monday he believed the misspelling of his last name was “an innocent error.” He said the name is Basque, while he is of Mexican descent and identifies as a Native American.

“My name is a difficult one, but that’s no excuse….if we have to say and spell Schwarzenegger, Scaramucci, Sevigny or Buttigieg then they can get my name correct,” he said.

He added, “I was concerned about this year’s ballot and I contacted Pam Cole at the South Dakota Democratic Party and others in the Native American Caucus. We then contacted Kea Warne and Christine Lerhkamp (in the Secretary of State office), who both apologized very sincerely for the error.”

He continued, “Of course, we expressed concern of the discounting of ballots….but we were told it wouldn’t be a problem. No mention of reprinting was part of these conversations from either (Warne or Lehrkamp).”

He noted that if questions later arise about the accuracy or truthfulness of the ballots, such as allegations of election fraud or a liberal conspiracy, “I will be very angry that the (Secretary of State) didn’t do more to correct the problem.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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