PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legislation that would add South Dakota to the long list of states requiring post-election audits continues moving forward at the state Capitol.
The House State Affairs Committee on Monday voted 13-0 for a further-amended SB-160. The House of Representatives could debate it as early as Wednesday afternoon.
The legislation would require that hand counts in 5% of a county’s voting precincts be compared to the machine counts.
The latest version now combines part of HB-1199 , another post-election audit proposal that the committee had set aside.
It also no longer requires that the two contests to be audited are the two closest statewide races.
Should the House approve the bill, it would return to the Senate for a decision whether to agree with the House version.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Republican Sen. David Wheeler, said counties will be reimbursed by state government for the costs of the audits.
“I want to make sure the state is paying for this,” Wheeler said.
If the legislation passes, Wheeler said he will meet with the Joint Committee on Appropriations to add funding to the South Dakota secretary of state office’s budget. The state Elections Board would set the reimbursement plan.
The South Dakota Secretary of State office now supports the bill. Tom Deadrick, the deputy secretary of state, had testified in “soft opposition” at the bill’s Senate committee hearing. Deadrick said Monday that the bill is based on other states’ post-election audit laws.
New Secretary of State Monae Johnson still plans to hold a study on post-election procedures later this year, he said.
County auditors would oversee the audits. Most county auditors support the legislation, according to Roger Tellinghuisen, representing the South Dakota Association of County Officials.
Republican Rep. Gary Cammack called for the committee’s endorsement. “They’ve taken a good stab at getting this thing right,” Cammack said.
Republican Rep. Rocky Blare said South Dakota elections are done well and are fair. “This will justify that we have problems or ratify we don’t,” Blare said.