Moody County Auditor Tawny Heinemann was on the hot seat Monday morning explaining how votes are cast and counted in any election and why there may have been mistakes made in the outcome this fall in local numbers, specifically in the race for the Register of Deeds.
The current Register of Deeds, Kris Grootwassink, requested a recount after it was discovered that 78 ballots were not certified on election night and in turn, not counted, out of Precinct #4 — a polling site in Egan. The Secretary of State’s website shows in its official election results that Grootwassink, who has held the position of Register of Deeds since her appointment in 2017, lost by just 46 votes to Brittany Bennett, a newcomer to the position.
Grootwassink was among those present Monday morning for the recount.
“I just want to see those 78 ballots get counted,” she said.
The Recount Board, consisting of attorney Bill Ellingson, Dr. Leslie Heinemann, and attorney Jason Unger, was presented with a full rundown on how votes are cast, kept and validated, both by absentee and in-person voting. The Board was also given an envelope of the 78 ballots that were not included in the final tally from November 8th. They were ballots that were kicked out of the machines due to them being unstamped.
There were 78 absentee ballots cast in this election. Auditor Heinemann said she could not say with certainty that it was the absentee ballots that didn’t get stamped on-site by the election day volunteer staff, but it might appear that that was the case.
South Dakota Codified Law 12-2-6 states: Unstamped ballots not counted. In the counting of the votes which is not endorsed or provided in Codified Law 12-18-12 by the official stamp shall be void and may not be counted.
Ellingson, Heinemann, and Unger began manually inspecting each of the 2,690 ballots cast in the November 8th election at 9:36 a.m. The final count and a discussion and decision on the matter were not expected until sometime that afternoon, after the time this issue would have gone to print. The Moody County Enterprise will have a full report and result in next week’s edition.