UPDATE: Sioux Falls School District intends to use ‘Super Precincts’ for bond election

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Theresa Stehly was on KSFY last night with concerns about this election;

The Sioux Falls School Board is set to vote on whether the special election will happen on Monday, July 23. The special election would take place Sept. 18. Stehly said as of right now, Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said he has not been contacted by the board to assist with the vote.

“I’m hoping that the school district is going to partner up with our county auditor to allow that County Auditor’s office to handle all the absentee ballots and also to be the intaker of counting the ballots at the end of the night,” Stehly said.

There are also some other concerns. The original company that created the E-Poll books hardware and software was ‘HART InterCivic’. They no longer technically support the devices. This is why the SOS had so many issues with them in the primary election. ‘BPro’ convinced the state they could get the devices to work, but didn’t have the proper software to handle the data (this is the rumor circulating). So the question is, as I said originally, how is the school district going to have ‘super precincts’ when they don’t have a proper and safe way to operate the E-Poll books? And shouldn’t we have them machine tabulated, especially in a $300 million dollar bond issue? The SF school board needs to have a long discussion before Monday’s decision to have a September election.

According to a source, Doug Morrison told them they intend to use Super Precincts for the school bond election. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, the obvious. The Secretary of State said they will not support E-Poll books. I believe the School District owns their own books, but who will be maintaining the IT work on them if the SOS has said they will not accept them? Also, will the Minnehaha County Auditor be contracted to machine tabulate the votes or will they perform a hand count internal canvass?

Secondly, using super precincts that don’t extend to every district within the Sioux Falls school district could be a violation of Federal law because they would be disenfranchising certain sectors of the community. Precincts have to be a certain distance from voters. In the 2016 school board election they neglected to have super precincts in the entire northern part of the district. That won’t fly this time.

By having a stand alone, super precinct election they will have a very low voter turnout. In other words the final polling will NOT reflect what the survey did, a 60% support. The survey postcards were sent to almost every household in Sioux Falls (83,000 addresses). Obviously, many of the people who the postcards were sent to are NOT registered voters and are highly unlikely to show up to a stand alone school district election. My guess is if they break a 51% approval they will be lucky (they need a 60% approval). The Event Center advisory vote which was very popular and had a high voter turnout received around 55%.

There is also a rumor circulating that the Co-chairs of the Task Force, Vernon Brown and Nan Baker will be heading up a private promotional committee. This could be viewed as a conflict of interest.

The school board votes on Monday to set the date of the special election. There are many unanswered questions, such as what the final cost of the bonds will be (IMO it will be $300 million) and how do they intend to fund the staffing of the new schools (they have no plan at this point).

I support building new schools, but this process has been less than transparent and has a lot of unknowns surrounding it. It’s based on a lot of wishful thinking.


#1 JKC on 07.18.18 at 5:19 pm

A course they will, why are we shocked? If you think that ‘Super Precincts’ were merely designed to save money, well, then I have a bridge on 8th Street that I want to sell you too. Because ‘Super Precincts’ are really meant to control the vote, or the outcome, by facilitating some voters at the expense of many. Plus, too many of the ‘Super Precincts’ in the past have been placed in predominantly white neighborhoods; and it is my guess that the Board’s placement of the ‘Super Precincts’ for this election will discriminate against our minority population in our district once again. So a federal lawsuit against the Board for their use of ‘Super Precincts’ would probably not succeed on the grounds of convenience as much as if it was alleged that the placements were disadvantageous to minority voters. That’s the angle that needs to be use when the Board comes out with their “white plan.” And I think its time to execute this strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for education. I don’t think that teachers are paid enough and I believe that the kids at Whittier deserve as much as kids at other middle schools in this town, but ‘Super Precincts’ are an abomination that strikes at the heart of what it means to live in a republic, or school district in this case, that claims to be democratic. For if the School Board really wants to enlighten, then it must also first relearn to empower.


#2 D@ily Spin on 07.18.18 at 9:33 pm

Another manipulated election process favoring the well to do population areas? The ACLU will eventually intervene. What’s needed for the school district is a civil rights lawsuit. The likes of Vernon Brown and Nan Baker will be villains during the litigation.

#3 JKC on 07.18.18 at 10:14 pm


#4 Theodore on 07.20.18 at 9:15 am

“Plus, too many of the ‘Super Precincts’ in the past have been placed in predominantly white neighborhoods; and it is my guess that the Board’s placement of the ‘Super Precincts’ for this election will discriminate against our minority population in our district once again”

What neighborhood in SF isn’t predominantly white?

#5 l3wis on 07.20.18 at 9:48 am

I think there are some areas around Whittier that are a higher percentage of mixed racial than in other parts of the city, for example McKennan Park. I guess I would have to see a census to pinpoint those areas. During the 2016 stand alone school board election, almost the entire northern part of the city was excluded from having precincts. Besides mixed races, I think the biggest difference is property values in the northern part of the city. There tends to be less home values once you go North of 10th Street.

#6 JKC on 07.20.18 at 1:08 pm


In relative terms, some neighborhoods are definitely all white versus others, which are not.

Case in study, visit all four Walmarts in Sioux Falls (which are in four different directions) in one day and you will get a good feel for the demographic break-down of this town. And if my memory serves me right, as L3wis also mentioned, the Board’s “Super Precincts” tend to heavily favor the south side of town, which is what I would call the “definitely all white” area of the town…

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