Press "Enter" to skip to content

Krebs Kills Vote605, Saves $10K/Year

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs kills Vote605 App to save South Dakota $10K a year.With a zeal matched only by Donald Trump’s heedless but unifying policy principle of erasing the legacy of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has scrubbed another of Jason Gant’s marks from South Dakota’s election system. The Vote605 app, introduced by Krebs’s bumbling predecessor in 2014, no longer functions.

Vote605 was a phone version of the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal, which allows us to look up voters one at a time by name and either birthdate or ZIP code. The system tells voters what party they are registered with, directs them to where and when they next vote, and provides sample ballots in PDF format.

As a petition circulator and campaigner, I found the Vote605 app useful for letting interested citizens know if they are registered to vote (and when that came up snake eyes, inviting them to register on the spot) and helping voters figure out which district the Legislature has gerrymandered them into. But for the last month or so, the app has failed to connect, and I couldn’t find an update online. Perhaps signaling the non-essentiality of this app, I didn’t get around to firing off a query to the Secretary of State’s office until last weekend, during the Brown County Fair, when more than a few visitors to the Democratic booth eagerly sought to learn which tired old Republicans they get to kick out of the Legislature this year.

The somewhat redoubtable and mostly undoubtable deputy SOS Kea Warne got back to me and said the state dropped Vote605 at the end of June. Warne says the state was paying $20,000 for a two-year contract to maintain the app. (That money came from the federal Help America Vote Act grant.) Warne reports fewer than 1,200 people used the app over the last two years, and we rare 0.14% of South Dakotans can get the same functionality (including ZIP code search, which I deeply appreciate so I don’t have to ask people’s birthdates) from the browser-based Voter Information Portal.

In 2015, Secretary Krebs shuttered her predecessor’s underused and poorly accounted iOASIS system for overseas military absentee voting. The whole point of Krebs’s candidacy for Secretary of State in 2014 was to oust the failing Jason Gant, and throughout her tenure, she has touted her efforts to repair the disarray in which Gant left our chief election office. The cancellation of the apparently redundant Vote605 app is one more instance of Secretary Krebs’s effort to wipe Jason Gant’s legacy from the election books.


  1. grudznick 2018-08-25 09:08

    People should just march down to the local courthouse like they did in the old days and chatbface to face with the gals. Those fancy phones can get eavesdropped on by the Russians.

  2. Porter Lansing 2018-08-25 09:25

    Grudzie … We all know Russia is socialism. Republicans claim Democrats are socialism. If Russia and Democrats are both socialism, why did the Russians help Republicans and not Democrats?

  3. Rorschach 2018-08-25 09:53

    iOASIS was supposed to be Jason Gant’s ticket to higher office. He had to settle for a ticket to Germany to demonstrate it on a military base. We know about how he and Pat Powers wasted so much money on that program, and how the took all kinds of corporate records offline and left it for Shantel to fix. And we know how he let a political staffer steal some antique state flags and Shantel had to get them back. But there has to be more to the story about how he got banished to Sioux Falls and was seemingly relieved of his duties long before his term was over. Maybe Shantel will share the rest of that story about or worst SOS ever and his political sidekick, Pat Powers when she leaves office.

  4. Porter Lansing 2018-08-25 10:02

    Pat Powers went to college to become a politician. Then, he found out no one likes him. Now he sells cheap plastic yard signs to unwitting political candidates, when they could buy twice as many for half the price on the internet … tax free!!

  5. Debbo 2018-08-25 15:12

    And the SDGOP wants to put Jason Gant 2.0 in the Attorney General office. Clearly they don’t learn. I hope the voters of SD do.

    Actually, I think SDGOP plans on Ravns being their Evil Elfin Oafin Sessions, except much less astute. He’ll do what they tell him, while they make hash of SD’s laws to their own benefit. Yes, worse than they already do.

  6. David Bergan 2018-08-25 23:17

    Why did Vote605 cost $10k/year if it only served 1200 people? With $40 per month of cloud computing you could easily serve 10 times that number each day.

    Kind regards,

  7. grudznick 2018-08-26 08:01

    $10k a year for cloud computers seems quite cheap. You couldn’t even hire Mr. PP a secretary to feed listings into the cloud computers for that.

    I bet this is Ms. Krebs just ripping out the last roots of Gantism before she leaves. Like Mr. Rorschach says, on her last day I wouldn’t be surprised if her web page displays a picture of a naked Gant or a cartoon mouse flipping the bird and saying something crude about Mr. Gant.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-26 08:48

    I’m intrigued by the financial analysis, David. Do you have any sense of the comparable complications of the server demands of running a statewide voter registration database with 534,000 records, each with maybe 12 to 20 columns and a WordPress blog like this with (this morning) 5,380 posts and 110,000+ comments? I pay $105/month for hosting and serve (this month) 4,000 views a day.

  9. David Bergan 2018-08-26 13:01

    Hi guys,

    I guess it all depends on what we’re including as expenses. I was assuming that the data entry was already done, since there has to be a database somewhere that holds our voter registration information. You wouldn’t manually re-enter that data into Vote605, just pull it electronically. So, grudz, that was $0 in my calculation.

    I also assumed that we weren’t paying for programming the app itself, since that should have been paid off in Gant’s term. (And it wasn’t a complex app, anyway… Able to be coded in 40 hrs by someone who knows what they’re doing.)

    The information presented in Vote605 is basically a database with one table, a dozen columns, and a half million rows. In other words, less than 10 MB.

    So you can get one small virtual machine at Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, or Microsoft Azure. They run about $40/month. Install MySQL and php (both free tools). Put the database in memory, and it can serve queries in about 100 milliseconds each. That’s 864,000 queries a day… which should be adequate.

    Your website, Cory, would be more computationally intense. WordPress requires SQL joins, which slow-things-down or use-more-resources-to-keep-fast. But, you still might be able to run it on a $40/month virtual machine. Modern server equipment is amazing efficient.

    Kind regards,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.