Pennington County won't use e-pollbooks again

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -- Pennington County will scrap the electronic pollbooks that malfunctioned on Election Day and return to a paper only system for the November vote, county Auditor Julie Pearson told the state Election Board in Pierre on Monday.

The computer glitch hit Pennington and seven other counties in the June primary and on Monday Secretary of State Shantel Krebs called the failure a "statewide issue."

At Monday's Board of Elections meeting she blasted the owner of the Pierre-based software company that built the pollbooks for not properly apologizing to the voters for the failure. The board voted to urge the Legislature to pass a law mandating that electronic pollbooks be backed up with a paper copy of voter rolls.

James Bialota, who fell short in his bid for the GOP nomination for Pennington County auditor, called the voting problems a "fiasco" and demanded an audit of the Pennington County results. In announcing her rejection of the electronic system, Pearson defended the vote count and said she was open to an audit.

"The poll workers love the electronic pollbooks," she said. "But we will not use them in November. We ran the election accurately, with integrity (despite) the technology issue that we had. We would welcome, if possible, an audit."

Krebs said that she has asked the state attorney general for guidance on whether the election board has authority to order an audit of the Pennington County returns under the terms of the federal Help America Vote Act.