Minnehaha County counting absentee ballots

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The vote count is winding down in Minnehaha County. Election workers are nearing the end of their two days of tabulating Election Day results and the thousands of absentee ballots.

The Minnehaha County auditor’s office has spent the day counting the more than 41,000 absentee ballots cast for this election. Interest in the process carries over far beyond the county.

The scanning machines made steady progress tabulating thousands of absentee ballots in Minnehaha County.

“You can see, the piles are getting a little smaller out there,” Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said.

The count started a little later than planned because the county had to double-check their math on some of the military ballots.

“It’s balancing out. We’re going to run them through last and we’ll be a few ballots here and a few ballots there. We’ll blend them in the precincts. They’re not enough to make any difference in the races. There will just be a few here and a few there,” Litz said.

Counting absentee ballots is more of a challenge because of the higher chances of the scanning machines rejecting them.

“I think the things that happen to the absentees when they get sent out at home and marked and they kind of get beat up a little bit, people carry them around in the car for a few days or weeks before they throw them into the ballot box, things happen to them it seems like more,” Litz said.

The vote count attracted some political junkie spectators. Ethan Marsland is a Democratic consultant from Rapid City.

“Even though I’ve been doing this for a few years, this is the first time I have gotten to sit in the county auditor’s office and watch the tabulation and all that and being that it’s in the midst of a pandemic, with huge absentee voting numbers it’s a lot different than it usually is,” Marsland said.

An unusual election that’s resulted in two days of tallying record absentee ballots.

Litz is standing by his decision to stretch the vote count over two days, saying it ensures accurate results and is healthier for his workers. Litz says some of his employees are self-isolating because of issues with COVID-19.