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Tripp County Ballot Machine Proves Election-Deniers’ Hand Count Not as Accurate as Technology

You know how those election deniers are all clamoring for hand counts to ensure “election integrity“? Tripp County, where their baseless agitations led to a hand count of all ballots last week, has added to the overwhelming empirical evidence that the election deniers would actually harm election integrity. Tripp County’s hand count produced a big discrepancy, and the machine count found the human error:

The case of Tripp County’s 75 “missing” ballots has been solved, County Auditor Barb Desersa said this week.

…Desersa ran the audit to prove to her county commissioners and residents that the machine was accurate.

The mismatched numbers prove the point, Desersa said Monday.

Each ballot handed out on Election Day is identified by precinct, she said, with the precinct name printed on the bottom of each ballot. Somehow staff placed 100 ballots labeled for another precinct in the Colome-labeled ballot box ahead of the election. Those ballots were then used and voted on during Election Day in Colome.

While the poll books and hand counts were accurate with the number of ballots for that precinct, the tabulator recognized that 75 of the ballots from the Colome precinct were originally labeled for another precinct, Clearfield.

Days after the election, those 75 ballots were found tallied in the tabulator’s history for the Clearfield precinct, rather than for Colome, even though they recorded Colome votes.

“Nobody noticed they were (labeled as) Clearfield ballots instead of Colome all day,” Desersa said. “They’re written on the bottom. But it shows the machine is more accurate because it knew to put those Clearfield ballots into the precinct. It read it as ‘those don’t belong there.’ It was human error.”

…“The machine caught it,” Desersa said. “To me, that shows that the machine is more accurate than humans” [Makenzie Huber, “Tabulator Catches Human Error in Tripp County Post-Election Audit,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2022.11.15].

South Dakota was one of a few states that elected an election denier to run elections. We can only hope that the Legislature will review the results from Tripp County and other empirical data and check Secretary of State-Elect Monae Johnson’s impulses to enact the radical election-wrecking ideas of her extremist election-denier base.


  1. Nick Nemec 2022-11-16 08:07

    I certainly hope no other counties go the hand count, election denier route. Handcounts are a waste of time, a waste of money and prove nothing more than how gullible some people are.

  2. Dave Spier 2022-11-16 08:38

    The human error was started in the Tripp county auditor’s office when they placed ballots marked for Clearfield precinct into the Colome precinct box. The volunteers completed an accurate count of votes on the ballots cast in each of Tripp county’s 13 precincts.

    I expected no funny business with the machine in Tripp county as there was ample notice of a hand count. The machine count would have reported less votes in Colome precinct and the same number of votes more in Clearfield precinct if not for the efforts of the hand count volunteers. Vote results reported for Colome and Clearfield precinct on the SD SOS website would be inaccurate. The Tripp county results reported would be accurate.

    While the machine can count accurately, when inaccurate information is submitted, it will deliver inaccurate results. This was demonstrated by the efforts of the volunteers.

    Credit for accurate results reported in all 13 Tripp county precincts belongs to the volunteers who hand counted.

  3. Donald Pay 2022-11-16 08:44

    Yeah, there’s a reason standardized tests are scored by machines, not humans. The human brain is not set up to deal with such mindless stuff. Scoring “bubble tests” or ballots is right up there with watching paint dry. Why do you think they send your SATs and ACTs off to some optical scanner outfit. People seem to think it’s easy to score these things, but they never had to score hundreds of multiple choice tests About fifteen minutes of such excitement, and you need to take a long walk.

  4. 96Tears 2022-11-16 08:51

    November 15 was a turning point in American politics, from Mar-a-logo and Washington, D.C., to Colome and Clearfield Precinct in Mellette County, S.D. A thud could be heard into this morning as Donald Trump’s announcement reaction marked the beginning of the end of his racist, conspiracy and lie-driven MAGA movement.

    This should come as great relief to us all, but especially to Republican office holders and party leaders.

    The Giant Rabbit Hole Expedition is done. You no longer need to cotton to election deniers. Except in dumb electorates like South Dakota, election deniers were gunned down in the polls, including the evil Kari Lake. Trump proved to be Midas-in-Reverse again, waking up Republicans from coast to coast that they no longer need to carry Trump’s baggage. The light is going on that all they need to do is to walk away from that flaming dumpster and let Trump defend his own lies with the Justice Department, the Jan. 6 Committee and the Attorneys General of New York and Georgia.

    Word to Trumpanzees: It’s not your fault Trump is a felon on the lam. You and I know his new grift of running for the GOP nomination to return to the presidency will not protect him from prosecution. Yes, in his announcement last night, Trump said he has been a victim. A victim. But you and I know that every legal issue chasing Trump today was brought on unilaterally by Trump.

    So, you folks in Mellette County. Stop. Think. Put down that heavy burden. Election denying forces you to keep carrying The Big Lie invented by Donald Trump to serve only Donald Trump’s craven desire for supreme power and relief from prosecution for crimes he chose to commit.

    Nick Nemec gave you a sage piece of advice. Put down that burden and exit The Giant Rabbit Hole. It serves nobody, even Donald Trump. Even Secretary of State-Elect Monae Johnson is going to be leaving the rabbit hole. It will dawn even on that dim bulb that Monae didn’t get elected because she campaigned (lied) as an election denier. She won only because she had the R next to her name.

    Politically, Trump is on life support and failing. Check out how easily Ron DeSantis smashed Trump’s insults last night back into Trump’s face. Exit the rabbit hole. You can thank me later.

  5. Richard Schriever 2022-11-16 10:20

    Dave Spier. You misconstrue the details of the story to spin support for your own prejudices. The point is the errors were committed by the humans – not the machine.

  6. Dave Spier 2022-11-16 11:59

    Richard Schriever. Look at the title and read the story. Hand counting is being discredited in both places. Errors were human and information from machine would have been wrong except for the hand counting. I am not doing the spinning.

  7. P. Aitch 2022-11-16 12:23

    MAGA Talking Point ‘O the Cycle: Mail in ballots are OK but only if you request one. States that mail every voter their own electronically personalized ballot are rife with voter fraud.
    ~ MAGA leaders can’t prove it because it’s not true. It’s not true because machines can and do check your identity and the identity of your signature on your ballot envelope better than humans can, will, or do.
    Just try and vote twice or vote with someone else’s ballot. Then, enjoy jail food and jail sex.

  8. cibvet 2022-11-16 12:40

    Did someone miss this line?? ““The machine caught it,” Desersa said. “To me, that shows that the machine is more accurate than humans”

  9. Mark Anderson 2022-11-16 12:58

    Hey, conservatives could use this hand counting as a math thingy in their culture war in schools. More algebra less propaganda.

  10. Richard Schriever 2022-11-16 20:29

    Dave Spier – the very first thing you said was “The human error …..” Note, the machine did not make an error. The humans did make errors. You do recognize this initially – but then go spinning off on a tangent.

  11. Kathleen Trandahl 2022-11-16 22:12

    Hand counting ballots is less accurate, more labor intensive and more expensive. Studies have shown that machines are better at certain tasks, such as repetitive work that needs to be done over and over and over.

    The Tripp County Commissioners voted to require the Auditor’s office to hand count the ballots one month prior to the election. The Auditor, her staff and the election workers were the true heroes of democracy. The election workers arrived at the polls at 6 am to get everything ready before the voters arrived. By the time the polls closed they had worked 13 hours. Many stayed to count ballots – they wanted to insure the integrity of the ballots they had guarded all day. The last of the 13 precincts finished after 5 am, meaning they had worked over 23 hours straight. Most of our election workers are in their 70s and 80s. These are dedicated citizens who take election integrity seriously. There were many uncontested races that could have been handled by the tabulating machine, but the commissioners required every race and ballot question to be hand counted. To say that the election workers were unhappy with this process is an understatement.

    The conspiracy theories that prompted this action were not supported by any credible evidence. Under South Dakota law, our tabulating machines cannot be hooked up to the Internet. We use paper ballots. In order to prevent this from happening to any other county Auditor, in any other county in South Dakota, legislation will be required.

  12. Observer 2022-11-16 23:10

    Next election have these County Commissioners count the votes.
    Twelve hundred forty-five, twelve hundred forty-six, twelve hunderd forty-eight…DANG! One, two, three…

  13. Jake 2022-11-17 09:35

    Dave Spier-go back and research; a human made that ‘original error’ did it not? (wrong ballot placement)!!!!

  14. P. Aitch 2022-11-17 12:08

    Hear, hear Judge Trandahl …

  15. Dave Spier 2022-11-17 14:27

    Jake. Research it yourself. Error is from Tripp county auditor office humans, not from human hand count volunteers. 75 ballots from Clearfield precinct with 195 active voters and 140 votes cast sent to Colome precinct to use. I did not know SD county auditors printed up that many extra ballots. Maybe because of my recent local experience with my polling place running out of ballots and needing more printed during that day?

  16. John Dale 2022-11-21 13:04

    The vote machines are accurate until they are hacked.

    Unfortunately, they were made to hack (like all computers).

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