To Bob Litz’s defense

I read the Argus Leader’s Wednesday article about the election result counting process and it seemed like a strange hit on Bob Litz and his staff.  Trust me, my confidence in Litz isn’t at an all time high. But I do know he really isn’t a complicated person who would devise a multi-level scheme to screw us all. He is also a little slow . . . counting votes that is. So what?! Do we need to know who won instantly. No. This isn’t Joker Poker on a video lottery machine. Bob’s quote pretty much summed it up;

“I don’t know what I could have done to speed anything up,” Litz said Wednesday. “My main thing is, I don’t care how long it takes. If I screwed up and I have to recount, it takes even longer.”

So I was curious if Bob really did FU, I asked a friend, Bruce, who volunteered Tuesday night to answer a few questions about the evening.

DL: So Bruce, why did you volunteer and what did you do?

Bruce: I love the process and wanted to see what I could do to help. I love being involved.  I was asked to be one of 8 resolutions judges.  These 8 judges are 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans working a two person teams.  The team responsibilities included verifying the military internet ballots, deciding voter intent on ballot marks, verifying blank ballots and guiding the machine operators when partisan, yes or no decisions needed to be made.

DL:  BTW, did you know Bob Litz or any of his staff before Tuesday night?

Bruce: I only knew of Bob in passing and none of the staff other than the quick visits to absentee vote.

DL: Back to Tuesday night, did you have many decisions to make?

Bruce: Each team sat at tables within site of the counting machines, we watched the process up close.  When a problem at one of the machines / ballots arose, we were asked to examine the problem and make a new ballot able to be run through the counters to register the voter’s intent.  The two of us had to recreate about 150 ballots before the tally could be processed.  I am not sure how many ballots were done by all the tables, but all were busy.

DL: What did you think of the staff, did they waste any time?

Bruce: I thought the staff did an amazing job.  You should see what people do to their ballots.  It was surprising how they mark them, fold them, tear them in half or creatively fill them out.  The staff knew how to deal with all the issues.  The equipment worked without issue.  You could tell this group had been doing this for a long time.

DL: What did Bob Litz do during this?  Could he have made it run faster?

Bruce: Bob did a great job of keeping everyone and everything out of the way of the process.  Just what a leader is supposed to do.

DL: Did you read the Argus article and if so what did you think of it?

Bruce: There is a reason I don’t read the Argus much anymore.  You could tell they know nothing about the process.  They were making issues out of the speed in which the process ran.  You do not make the machines run faster than they are designed.  I do not believe in rushing a process or skipping steps.  There were many boxes of ballots from many different sites.  As stated before, if people mutilate ballots, it takes longer to run count them.

DL: But what about the slowness of the absentee ballots.

Bruce: The absentee ballots were already opened when we started but they were done in a locked room away from us.  They were moved into position to be counted after all other ballots were done.  It took three hours to run all the regular ballots and then bring the absentees in after preliminary counts were noted.  The massive number of absentees were impressive to see.  These ballots were also folded for first class mailing envelopes and also for Auditor’s office absentee voting.  All of these had to be carefully run so they would not jam the equipment.  Besides, why should we rush the counting system?  Who cares?

DL: What do you mean?

Bruce: What difference does it make if we are done at midnight or noon on Wednesday if the totals are right?  If the office and staff folds under pressure to rush the job and we end up with a miscount mess like the Mitchell Auditor had in June 2012, what did we gain?  Isn’t the idea to get the count right?  Are we more interested in how fast we can get on to the drinking games or go to bed?  We need to make sure the count is right above all else, let’s not forget this.

DL: Would you do it again?

Bruce: It was a fun experience.  The staff was professional and their respect for the truth in counts impressed the skeptic in me.

DL: What was your general impression of the article written based on your experience?

Bruce: It was a hit job, written by someone with no experience in voting processes.  What I read into the article?  How about a publishing deadline was missed and the Litz office is being blamed for it.  We were very busy until 3:30am and did not see anything we could have done to speed up the process.  Before the Argus tells a professional staff how to do their job, they should learn how to do the job themselves.  It was a usual weak job of glossing over their own incompetence.

DL: Thanks Bruce for your firsthand reporting on the process.



#1 Poly43 on 11.09.12 at 12:09 am

Like DL, I am no fan of Bob Litz. But…Bob pales in comparison to what’s happening in Florida. Governor Rick Scott has brought back Jim Crow from the dead. 48 hours later, and we still know nothing about Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Since 2000 Florida has been a horror story. WHY? Voter suppression. Pure and simple.

The argus is trying to manufacture a story where there is none. I’m connvinced our process is OK…certainly nothing like Florida.

#2 Pathloss on 11.09.12 at 7:02 am

It’s important to see both sides. Ooh, the comment about the Argus. Sadly, true. I still feel the events center vote was rigged. I also feel a Snowgates vote should be monitored with no ballots out of sight. City political types do not like being told what to do. In their minds, Home Rule means we have no voice. Once elected, seems they forget government is of, by, & for the people.

#3 Guest Poster on 11.09.12 at 6:14 pm

What I see in the hit piece is the work of Jason Gant and his ALEC friends. ES&S want South Dakota to ‘upgrade’ to the touch screen systems they sell. Intercivic and others will continue to push the idea of instant voting results and how important it is for us. A lot of BS.

Followers of my posts will find I am an advocate of returning to completely paper based voting process with the higher levels of security many hands in the process enhances.

The ethically challenged ALEC GOP Secretary of States through out the US are pushing for more ways to limit voting. The more they can limit voting, the more their side will win. It is their only way to win in the future.

#4 l3wis on 11.10.12 at 11:52 am

GP tells me DaCola was featured on a National Radio show for a post GP did about ES & S. We are working on getting an audio clip . . .

#5 Dave R on 11.10.12 at 11:36 pm

Paper Ballots leave a paper trail and are the only way to go. Electronic voting machines are a bad idea, imo.

Also, agree with Bruce.

#6 Detroit Lewis on 11.11.12 at 12:30 pm

Dave, especially in a low population state like SD we could easily hand count ballots.

#7 Concerned Citizen on 11.13.12 at 9:05 am

Why in the 21st Century would we want to count ballots by hand? The counters cannot be “rigged” they are at zero when they start…this process that can be watched by any citizen..from zero to the end. There are few human errors when counting with a machine, I cannot imagine how many human errors would happen counting by hand. This would definitely slow down the process.

On Litz’s behalf, I think taking the time to make sure the count was correct was the right thing to do. I have watched this process, and in my opinion, Litz’s staff does the actual work with the counting machines and really do not care so much about the results as they do the process.

#8 Guest Poster on 11.13.12 at 2:58 pm

I was impressed by the staff running the process. Still why shouldn’t all ballots be on paper and counted by hand?

We in South Dakota have been lucky so far with our less hackable older processes. It appears we will not be so lucky in the future if Gant and his cabal continue to steal our rights from us.

#9 l3wis on 11.16.12 at 9:16 pm

GP is right, our outdated equipment have probably made the process safer. Paper ballots are the way to go and stay.