The state Board of Elections meets this week on Wednesday in the Capitol to consider election-audit rules prepared by election-denier Secretary of State Monae Johnson and her election-integrity summer-study group. The agenda includes changes endorsed by 49 county auditors. (Notably absent from the endorsers is the auditor of Minnehaha County, Johnson’s fellow election-denier and enemy of free speech Leah Anderson.)
The auditors’ recommendations include an interesting semantic argument, contending that references to “hand counting” should be replaced with “manual counting”:
5:02:23:07. Public vote count. In the presence of all persons desiring to attend the post-election audit vote counting, the post-election auditing board shall immediately proceed to publicly
handmanually count the votes and shall continue without adjournment until the count is completed.
The word ‘hand’ should be stricken and replaced with manual to stay consistent in the language in 12-17B-20. ‘Hand’ counting implies that the post-election audit board can take voter intent into consideration. The word ‘manual’ makes it clear that the board cannot consider voter intent and instead should only consider the parameters laid out in section 1 of this rule. We would also request that any accompanying manuals and training material for the post-election strike the word ‘hand’ and replace with ‘manual’ for clarity and consistency. We also request that it is stressed throughout the training that the post-election audit board is manually counting therefore they cannot consider voter intent [49 county auditors, public comment, submitted to South Dakota Board of Elections for September 27 rules hearing, 2023.09.22].
Looking at the words purely from a dictionary perspective, I wouldn’t see any difference between “hand” and “manual”. To me, they read like pure synonyms. I don’t see any implication in either term that people conducting such a count could consider voter intent or conduct any other analysis.
But “manual” is the term used in the new post-election-audit law passed in the 2023 Session, so that’s the term we should use in the rules implementing that law. And there is certainly nothing wrong with the auditors reminding the folks checking the ballots under this new law is that their job is not to try diving voter intent or imposing any other subjective analysis or wishful thinking onto the ballots on which their hands and eyes will fall; their job is to follow very specific and objective criteria laid out for all officials granted the sacred duty of reviewing our ballots.