Entries Tagged 'Elections' ↓


The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 6, 2015 in the Commission Meeting Room of the County Administration Building located at 415 N. Dakota Avenue in Sioux Falls.

The meeting is open to the public.

I have watched all the meetings so far and have discussed with Chair Danielson some of the recommendations he expects to put in the final report, and am excited for it’s release tomorrow.

Election Review Committee, 2/20/2015

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Minnehaha County Election Review Commission reports sloppiness in data files

Chair, Bruce Danielson has been doing data research on the voting lists AND votes cast, here are some of his early findings he presented in the meeting today;

Since December we have been researching the voting process in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County and the state of South Dakota. Each member of this committee has special skills and knowledge they have used as part of these discussions.

With this committee’s knowledge, my assignment was to research the data side of our voting process. I could go into a great deal of detail and bore each of you with too much detail at this time but won’t.

I have managed IT shops, done data recovery, plus studied and mined data for over 30 years. This data and process examination brought to light many weaknesses in the way our data has been compiled, processed, updated and saved. I have been disappointed with every government level involved. Every office involved with this data played its part in the process failures.

My Political Science and History degree gave me an insight into the processes we examine. The many years being involved in the political side of the voting process and my natural skepticism of modern voting systems brought me to the Minnehaha County resolution board for the first time in 2012. I needed to see it up close and personal.

The City of Sioux Falls petition drives in 2012 and 2013 gave me the need to buy voter lists to verify our signatures. The data issues I found in these files caused me to take a deeper look at the data side of the election process. The first files were created in late August then September of 2013 and February 2014. I was appalled by the sloppy nature of this data. In February 2014 I attempted to contact the Secretary of State’s office to inform them of the problems but no one would return my telephone calls. We learned to work with the hundreds of bad addresses we found.

As part of this report I yesterday loaded the December 2012 pre-conversion AS400 data used for setting up South Dakota’s TotalVote database. It is a database of old design but the data was fairly clean and the street directions appear to be correct (N, S, E, W).

Using data supplied by the Secretary of State’s office this week, my research has found at least 1087 repairs performed to correct some of the address issues. I have found more and I will be supplying these reports to the Auditor’s office for continuing updates.

The 2014 City of Sioux Falls and June primary elections were held using the same terrible data I was supplied with. I am not picking on this election but it is the most detailed information I have to analyze.

With this data research still in progress I have found a few highlights and questions needing attention:

  1. With all the bad data found, how could anyone do a voter purge in 2013 and feel secure it was correct? Did anyone controlling data the care?
  2. Who audited the purge to verify the process was correct before the action?
  3. How could data be modified and uploaded into a new database system without any quality control?
  4. Who wrote the procedures for the Driver’s License office and Department of Social Services to use to register voters? Where are the signer’s cards?
  5. There were approximately 121,000 Minnehaha County (including 97,341 Sioux Falls) records uploaded into TotalVote beginning in December 2012. By September 2013 there were 110048 records supplied to me of which 94,213 were for Sioux Falls. These records were uploaded with 385 different dates for the first 9 month period of operation. To use this file, I corrected this field to show 181 dates. A difference of almost 200. This encompassed thousands of voter information records with field errors.
  6. We had reports of people not being registered to vote any longer, how do people verify?
  7. What were the voting histories of those purged voters? (i.e., did they tend to be voters with long-standing histories of regular voting?) We don’t know.
  8. We have been asked what the demographics were and could they be independently verified?
  9. Do we know how many of those purged voters re-registered before the general election?
  10. Are there any non-malicious, purely data-based characteristics that could explain the update errors or purges as a “fat-fingered” error (e.g., could the system have purged voters based on the table issues, length of name, alphabetical sequence of name [some systems freak out and it deleted all names between J and M], birth month, day or year, precinct number, etc.)?
  11. Will the voting center data collected be included in the voter history table for the historical ability to audit? If the Auditor’s office is to be an Absentee polling place shouldn’t they be using the epoll book like the other voting centers?
  12. I asked for complete files with deceased, purged and moved data so I could balance the auditable information. The City Election comparison data is showing the date of 04/08/2014 with 31,676 votes cast vs. 31,957 reported. It would have been easier to audit with the full database.
  13. I have studied the City of Sioux Falls cityward field in both Lincoln and Minnehaha County data each uses different identification. Why does this matter? How about voting centers having different ballots styles to choose from and the epoll book not recognizing the correct cityward to give out correct ballot.
  14. Sioux Falls precinct data (prename) is identified by both counties differently. (SIOUX FALLS 1-11 vs. PRECINCT-0110)
  15. We heard many stories of people getting the wrong ballots, unusual voting patterns and being excluded from voting, the press stressed a few of them. I believe some of the causes start in the SOS TotalVote system.
  16. The street master system in Sioux Falls does not make not systemic sense. It requires the user to make assumptions not always based on principles of logic.
  17. In an attempt to understand the county / city GIS system, a file was supplied for me to work with. In a matter of minutes almost 600 errors were found. These were turned in for repair.
  18. The city, counties and state have been or are investing in major technology upgrades but seem to be forgetting to have audit paths as part of this process.

As part of our final report, we will be breaking this down further with more detailed recommendations. At this point every office I have dealt with in this process has a share of the blame for the issues we have had here. Thank you for your time. The floor is open to questions.

SD Retailers Association fiddling with the will of the people


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Some people just don’t get it, the voters passed the minimum wage increase because if they had to wait on industry to do it, it would never happen. Funny how they don’t have money to pay wages but somehow the organization was able to raise and spend $100K to fight it.

I also enjoyed this little tidbit;

And that means when it comes to making basic decisions about how to run your business, you’re going to have to ask the permission of 280,000 South Dakota voters.

Nice ‘red meat’ statement. That is called ‘regulation’. Nobody is telling you who to employ or fire or what to pay at a maximum, it is just revising a minimum that was already on the books, they are setting a regulation when it comes to wages. If you do not want to pay those standards, close your doors and go on your merry way.

MC Election Review Committee Videos

This is from the last meeting January 16.

The first is a demonstration of the tabulation machines, the second is the meeting.

Election Review Commission to meet again this Friday

I would like to thank Robert Wilson with the county administration for having a change of heart and including me on the press release email list!


Should Bloggers be allowed to be included in Press Releases?

While we are talking County bizzo, I was told the other day that assistant Minnehaha county administrator, Robert Wilson told the chair of the election commission that he didn’t want bloggers on the email press release list. His reasoning was we ‘have a point of view’. Damn right we do, and you are going to hear that view right now.

The chair submitted the email contacts of three important blogs in the state, South DaCola, Madville Times and Dakota War College (well at least two of them are important :)

I found this odd, because we are all different, and as we would all attest, we are on several press release email lists (I often get chastised when I don’t post something from these peeps). They range from ag, art, party politics, candidates, medical, homelessness and several other non-profits and government entities.

We are not monsters in the closet. But after the appointment of Jean Bender today, I’m finding out more and more that the county likes to operate from the view of information lockdown.

Speaking of that, I guess at the election review meeting today the new machines locked up on the ES & S techs as they were bragging about how great of machines they were.


Image: John Hult, Argus Leader Twitter feed

Priceless. Nothing better then a car salesman telling you how great a car is and it won’t start.

There was also a diatribe from (an elected official) defending Bob Litz because he doesn’t have enough cold storage space (Hey, Bob’s house is big enough to store his beer, free weights and deer jerky).

During the meeting, Pearson didn’t hold back. She says the commissioners aren’t providing adequate amount of space needed to work on election day. Pearson says they need enough space to keep the ballots secure. Ballots need to be in a temperature controlled room, otherwise moisture can effect whether the counting machines will read them.

As commissioner Kelly recommended from the beginning, there should not have been any other elected officials on this commission, and in my opinion, public employees. They are only going to defend instead of fairly review. I recommend the rest of the commission purge these members now and reappoint.

Minnehaha County Election Review Panel discussion

The commission, auditor and SOS are going to pick the panel. Pekas’ comments on precincts are right on!

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Sioux Falls City Clerk ‘Grim & Determined’ about continuing Musical Precincts

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that the city and school district refuse to work with the counties on election consistency. Because gosh darn it, we are saving money. Even though Councilor Erpenchickenbachbach says she works with the counties in this episode of Inside Town Hall.

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Democrat weighs in on the election

A guest submittal

I am an old style campaign organizer. It does not mean I am necessarily old processes are the best but a believer in basic principles of campaigning established long before any of us were alive. The basic structure of both major political parties suck. The “legalized” hidden money now controls everything. You know the kind of money “legally” disbursed through no-bid contracts and funneled back into campaign activities. We saw the money flow in the 2014 Sioux Falls municipal election and it will be seen in the limited campaign finance reporting to be completed by our just completed state and federal campaigns.

I don’t get into campaign rah-rah hoopla anymore. It hasn’t happened in years. This year was another one of those years. I tried to get involved again this year. It was hard. The inexperienced helpers think their “modern” methods are going to work. They don’t. They only give a momentary mental rush. I attended events to observe the turnouts of the limited faithful. We got to see what happens when the worthless Facebook gamers are combined with party funders who have their personal reasons to limit the helpers physical reach out to voters. It is disturbing.

David Montgomery had a nice quick analysis of the just past election in the Argus Leader. Both parties lost this year. Why did they both lose? It just comes down to a multi-year everyday drudgery called get out the vote. This effort should be the primary daily process of the party, not a process to be done by each campaign at the last minute. The rah-rah events and parties should be motivators, not the focus of the particular party.

For example: we see people “first” issues placed on the ballot by the Democratic Party actually win at the polls. Why not take the same effort and build a political party? What a waste of time and abuse of limited financial resources. Several issues have been handed to the Democratic Party leaders over the last 10 years which could have built a principled party. What have the operators of the party done with it? Ignore them. Let’s play pretend. Let’s dream of things we could do if we were in power.

A few years ago I tried to have a meeting with an elected Democratic official and move a voting issue along. This person told me “I won’t do it until after next election (2 years away) when it is my last possible term.” You know what happened? This person’s last term was that year because an important stand had to be taken. I could have been wrong in my issue but the elected official was afraid of taking a principled stand.  An elected official wins with principled stands. An election or two might be lost but in the end more quality elected officials will win.

No one seems to be interested in the long term things like party base building. Some of us have been fighting our battles for a long time. The Democratic party lost its last unified front by 1976. It showed in 1978 and thereafter. It will now be 44 years out of power before the Democratic party can even be attempting to change the system from the inside. Now South Dakota does not even have a public voice or possible elected public power voice to move things forward in the media.

So what to do? Give up? Some of us just don’t know how to give up. We might be momentarily disgusted by the process we see, but we look for ways to rebuild.

It’s a shame the Democratic Party of South Dakota has to get out the 3 x 5 index cards and rebuild the party from scratch. The South Dakota Republican Party is not far behind. Complacency after an over-whelming victory is very destructive to a party structure.

I hate to remind people, elections are not NFL Super Bowls. There is no single victorious winner takes all in United States elections. We are a democracy where we protect the unprotected. Our system is not to protect the privileged or just the winners. Have your party to celebrate the victories but be prepared to govern for the least amongst us.

Why care who wins anymore?

So why be involved?

Some of us just care.