Last week I said that the Constitution Party may have another month to argue its case and feasibly place Kurt Evans on the U.S. Senate ballot and Wayne Schmidt on the District 23 House ballot. The statutory deadline for printing ballots is September 21, so conceivably, a judge could rule in favor of the Constitutionists at 9 a.m. that day, and county auditors could shoot final ballots through the printer by 5 p.m., right?
Jason Williams of the Secretary of State’s office informs me ballot printing isn’t that easy. County auditors don’t print their ballots in house. Ballots must come from a vendor certified to print optical scan ballots that our counties’ ballot-counting machines can read. According to Williams, auditors create ballots in Pierre-based BPro’s Total Vote election system and send their layouts to SeaChange Election Services (formerly Synergy) in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Williams says designing, proofing, printing, and delivering our ballots can take up to four weeks.
Thus, practically speaking, county auditors are likely laying out and ordering their ballots based on the candidate and ballot question lists Secretary Krebs certified last week right now. A reversal of Judge Schreier’s decision to block Evans and Schmidt from the ballot would require either an expedited printing order or a delay of ballots that would in turn delay the opening of early voting on September 23.