Sioux Falls is knocking down one of the last bricks of Jason Gant’s dubious legacy as Secretary of State. For next week’s municipal and school board elections, the city is throwing out Gant’s vaunted electronic poll book voting centers and returning to precinct voting. Gant’s bright idea costs too much:
Sioux Falls first implemented voting centers in 2012 under a pilot project launched by former Secretary of State Jason Gant. The pilot allowed local election authorities to establish voting centers in lieu of precincts. Voting centers use what are called e-poll books, a database of registered voters that reflects in real time when a ballot is cast by a registered voter. Basically, when a ballot was cast at one voting center, election workers at other voting centers were notified, ensuring votes aren’t duplicated.
Under the pilot, cities and school districts were able to lease e-poll books from the Secretary of State’s Office. Starting this year, though, e-poll books are required to be purchased outright by local election authorities.
“Once the pilot was completed, then it would be up to that jurisdiction if they wanted to keep using them,” said Shantel Krebs, Gant’s successor as South Dakota Secretary of State.
In Sioux Falls, Greco said that would have cost the City Clerk’s Office about $225,000 for the 100 or so needed for the 13 voting centers.
“We’d have to buy them and we’re not in a position to spend a quarter million dollars on that technology,” he said [Joe Sneve, “Voting Centers Nixed for City, School Board Elections,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.04.04].
..and, contrary to the expectation that using technology to network voting stations and let people choose where they want to vote would make elections run more smoothly, Gant’s plan created more confusion and delay:
“It’s pretty confusing and frustrating to voters when they go to one place and think they can vote there, and then we have the same place, but it’s just a precinct and not everybody can go there. We thought if we made all those places common that it would have helped during those types of elections, but actually it probably added to the confusion,” [Minnehaha County Auditor Bob] Litz added.
…Assigned precinct voting should also make the process go smoother.
“When I print a poll book, I don’t have to convert it into the electronic poll book that’s got everybody in it. I can break it down into the precincts instead of breaking it down into the electronic version, which left gaps for mischief in there,” Litz said [link mine; Mark Roper, “Precinct Voting Returns to Sioux Falls,” KSFY-TV, 2016.03.03].
Sioux Falls voters, find your precinct voting station on this map or use the official Vote 605 app on your phone (ah! something Gant did that still works!), and get out and vote next Tuesday, April 12!