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.

 

Minnehaha County Auditor’s office fearless leader, “Not sure if they have enough signatures. They won’t let me look in their minivan.”

UPDATED: BTW, my apologies to Litz. He apparently is telling the truth in this matter, according to the Argus.

I will admit, I am surprised the opt-out signature gatherers were able to get 5,400 signatures. I do know there was 35+ volunteers out there getting them. The problem is the short time they had to get them (20 days). As I told one of the volunteers the other day, “This is done on purpose to make it very, very, difficult for citizens to overturn legislation.”

You should always try to get at least 20% over your needed amount for a buffer. But like I said, time constraints are a bitch.

Shortly before a 5 p.m. deadline today, activists say they turned in about 5,400 signatures, more than the 5,334 they need.

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz didn’t count or verify the referral petitions today. That process will begin on Thursday. But his office did a rough, unofficial count and say the opponents might be thousands of signatures short.

C’mon Bob! You determined from a ‘rough count’ they were thousands short? I suggest that if Bob ‘Can’t get enough ballots to the precincts’ Litz deems them invalid, that the group ask for an independent audit agreed upon by both parties. How can you trust a county auditor that 1) collects his paycheck from the very county that is asking for a tax increase and 2) chased the petition gatherers out of the Republican booth at the SE fair? it is pretty damn obvious he has a bias in this matter, and his hands should be kept off of the petitions. I would also suggest the group have a representative sitting right next to the auditor reviewing the signatures. Remember this same office can’t even distribute ballots correctly, blaming it on a mini-van taking the ballots hostage. My confidence in the current auditor’s office is at a all time low, and his current support system, SOS Jason Gant, doesn’t know petition laws from a freaking hole in the ground. I guess he is too busy tracking people who are visiting his website.

Will the audit of these signatures be fair? I guess we will have to wait and see. I’m not holding my breath.

Before we start talking about Litz, I first want to post a correction about Dick Kelly and Pat K. hanging out in the Auditor’s office election night. This is perfectly LEGAL as long as it is after the polls have closed (though I don’t agree with it). Sorry, I was technically wrong, but you were ethically wrong.

I have been hearing quite a few grumblings about Mr. Litz and his job performance. It is no secret that former auditor Roust did a very good job of training her employees, but obviously, you can only train your employees so much, and you certainly would not show them how to do your job, what’s the point? She took her job seriously, that means educating herself on new procedures and training her employees. That’s what a responsible manager does. The buck must also stop on the auditor’s desk. That means if one of the auditor’s office employees makes a mistake because of lack of training, that is on the auditor’s head. I know that some of these employees have expressed frustration with Litz’s ‘management’ style, or lack thereof. When employees in the auditor’s office don’t have faith in their boss, this can be counterproductive to having smooth elections.

I do know that in the municipal election, running out of ballots was not good, and a little bit inexcusable (still waiting for the SOS to do a proper investigation). When their printer (B & S) delivers the ballots, they are delivered to the auditor’s office, not to a school district employee’s van. Rumor has it that the city, the school district and the auditor’s office don’t work well together, some within city government might even want him to personally fail, which I think is ridiculous. As a public servant citizens should always come first, whether you think the auditor is total loser or not, should not matter, when it comes to elections and voting, the strong public servants should always help the weaker links. I see this as an underlying problem, because if Litz fails, it hurts us more then it hurts him. Kiss and make up.

Secondly, I do know that auditor employees had to call Roust for advice primary night because Litz did not have the answer. They can only rely on this for so long. Eventually Roust is going to stop answering her phone since she no longer holds that office, she has no reason to educate herself anymore on election procedures. That is what Litz is supposed to be doing, and passing that info to his employees.

I do know that Litz had mentioned to several people while he was running for the job that he was only going to be a ‘manager’ and his employees would handle all the details. Sorry Bob, if voter’s just wanted a ‘manager’, we would just hire one for a lot less money. You are an elected official that gets paid very well, you need to educate yourself and do the job well, otherwise this may be just a temp job for you.

This scares me a bit, and makes me a little sick;

Minnehaha County auditor Bob Litz says the county might need to cut back by at least 7 percent in 2012, based on early income and cash flow numbers.

Litz says cash on hand in March was $1.35 million, when it is typically about $4 million at that time of year. He says expenses are running nearly $6 million over income each month.

Commissioners approved a $64 million budget for 2011. That was more than $22,000 less than the 2010 budget.

I just hope they find money for a decorating budget for Bob’s office. Though the cardboard boxes do match his skin tone.

 

Who’s on First?

Don’t quote me on this, but I think this idea has been in motion by either the SF city clerk’s office, Sue Roust, or both for quite awhile, long before Bobby and Jay-Jay took office;

Instead of designated precincts, voters will be able to cast their ballot at any voting center located throughout the city.

Great idea, way overdue. But I’m wondering why Abbott and Costello get to toot their horns about this? This was something that was probably sitting in both of their IN baskets the first day they took office. And by looks of Litz’s office (watch the video) he needs to decorate with something besides cardboard boxes and manilla folders. I’m just saying.

(Screenshot KELO-TV)