PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An advisory group has wrapped up regarding South Dakota’s new post-election audits.

The panel chosen by first-year Secretary of State Monae Johnson spent Tuesday reviewing the state laws and working line by line through the draft version of rules that will be proposed for all counties to follow after the 2024 elections. 

The group went through a mock post-election audit, then went back for further discussion regarding some of the possible rules. The members also discussed a guide that will be distributed to assist county auditors.

It was the group’s third meeting. Consultant Jennifer Morrell said the experience had helped her better understand a complex topic.

“It just sort of reminds me there is not a one size fits all,” she said. Said Pennington County Commissioner Travis Lasseter, “We’re just trying to make sure the process that we’re auditing is doing what it is supposed to.” 

Many states already require a post-election audit. The South Dakota Legislature passed the new law in March.

Hyde County Commissioner Jim Eschenbaum said Tuesday, “Our country is founded on the voting process and freedom is maintained by the voting process. We’ve got to make sure it’s right.” He added, “At some point we’ve got to stop arguing, ‘Hey, I didn’t lose.’” 

Republican Rep. Rebecca Reimer was one of the legislators who served on the panel. “I think we’ve made it work for the most part,” Reimer said. “I think as we go forward there will be things we can tweak.” 

Mike Buckingham of Rapid City, a former legislator, said he would be involved again in the next step as a state Elections Board member, when the proposed rules are presented for the board’s formal approval, possibly in September.

“There’s a lot of work left to do,” Buckingham said. He noted what wasn’t discussed: The new law says the Secretary of State Office is responsible for reimbursing counties. “That to me is a big question yet. I think when it comes to Pennington County versus Hand County there’s going to be a big difference,” he said. 

“We couldn’t have done this without you,” Secretary of State Johnson told the group in closing. “This is a great start. Yes, we still have a lot of work to do.”