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BPro, Not Counties, Caused Primary Delays; Board of Elections Keeps Pollbooks

When the networked electronic voter rolls known as pollbooks malfunctioned in the eight counties that use them on primary day, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs was understandably alarmed. Her office’s first impulse seemed to be to blame the counties and disavow any state responsibility:

County Commissioners and County Auditors in eight counties in this state have chosen to utilize electronic pollbooks.

These counties experienced sporadic loss of connectivity with their electronic pollbooks.  Some of those counties switched to their back up plan of utilizing paper voter registration lists and pollbooks.  Others resolved the issues with the electronic pollbook vendor without undue delay.

…This is not a statewide issue.  This delay was limited to the counties that voluntarily use electronic pollbooks and the issue has been resolved [SD Secretary of State’s office, press release, 2018.06.05].

But at yesterday’s Board of Elections meeting, Secretary Krebs dragged one of the state’s favored tech vendors, Pierre-based BPro, to take the heat for delaying your primary vote:

Krebs had BPro Inc. President Brandon Campea of Pierre explain Monday what went wrong during the primaries. He said his central server shut down on election morning. She later had Campea return to the table and apologize publicly.

“Our software did not perform,” he said. “We will do better and we can do better.” He said the problem wasn’t the secretary of state office’s fault [Bob Mercer, “After Pennington County Election Bungle, Krebs Says Paper Backups Needed,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.06.18].

BPro publicly acknowledged its responsibility for the connection errors last week.

The state contract database shows the Secretary of State’s office has six 2018 contracts with BPro for $162,000. As Todd Epp pointed out right after Primary Day, BPro didn’t need to bid for its contracts, even the big ones for $50K or more, because the state has determined that BPro is “clearly and justifiably the only practicable source to provide the service.”

Hey, tech entrepreneurs! Given how grouchy Secretary Krebs sounds over the pollbooks snafu, now might be a great time to prove the state wrong and show that you are another practicable source of the service in question.

Entrepreneurs will continue to have the chance to provide this voter-roll technology to counties. Secretary Krebs was going to follow Sioux Falls’s 2016 lead and dump electronic pollbooks entirely, which would have forced the eight counties that use voting centers to go back to precinct-based voting. However, the public comment submitted to the Board of Elections was entirely in favor of keeping the technology, which county officials and the Chiesman Center for Democracy said has worked glitchlessly in most elections and provides convenience to voters and election officials alike. The Board of Elections settled for Krebs’s less radical proposal of requiring that every polling place have a paper voter registration list as a backup to check in voters.


  1. Brandon Johnson 2018-06-19 09:37

    There are a number of poll book vendors out there that the counties can take a look at. Tenex and KNOWiNK to name a few.

  2. DB 2018-06-19 18:23

    Hmmm… Where does one sign up for tech bid notifications?

  3. Debbo 2018-06-19 20:45

    Is BPro affiliated with the GOP enabling Diebold?

  4. grudznick 2018-06-19 20:47

    BPro has to be better than BAm, who Mr. Gant was hiring.

  5. Brandon Johnson 2018-06-20 07:46

    grudznick, who is BAm that Gant hired?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-20 18:11

    Mike! Good fishing! A campaign finance connection between BPro and ES&S!

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