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Election workers at voting precinct
Poll watcher Rick Weible observes the counting of ballots during a city and school board election on April 9, 2024. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

SD Board of Elections votes against hand-counting

PIERRE, S.D. – The state Board of Elections did not approve petitions Wednesday from activists who want to move the state toward hand-counting ballots.

A Republican state Senate candidate, Rick Weible, of Elkton, petitioned the board for declaratory rulings. The petitions asked the board to take several actions, including deeming certain election tabulating software non-compliant with state law and de-certifying its use. The board did not grant the requests.

Board member Scott McGregor said afterward that Weible and his supporters routinely attend board meetings to pursue their agenda.

“It’s all about going back to hand-counting our elections,” McGregor said.

He added that Weible and others in attendance are misguided: The appointed board serves an administrative function and does not make law.

“They need to talk to the Legislature,” McGregor said.

RELATED: Another South Dakota County Denies Petition Against Hand Counting Votes 〉 

During the meeting, Weible and his group lashed out at Republican Secretary of State Monae Johnson, the state’s top elections official. Weible helped Johnson win the office, and while she was campaigning, she repeatedly declined to say whether she accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting accused Johnson of betraying them since she won her office. She did not respond.

Meanwhile, three South Dakota counties will ask voters Tuesday if they should ban the use of tabulator machines in future local elections. Each of the measures was petitioned onto local ballots by members and supporters of a group called South Dakota Canvassing, of which Weible is a member.

If the measures pass, the auditor’s offices in each county would have to hand-count ballots in the Nov. 5 general election and thereafter. The votes are in Gregory, Haakon and Tripp counties.

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Poll workers wait for the next South Dakota primary voter at the Instructional Planning Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Statewide turnout was historically low, with just 17% of registered voters casting a ballot. (Photo: Stu Whitney/ South Dakota News Watch)

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