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Software Glitch Adds Thousands of Phantom Ballots in Rapid City Election

According to the Rapid City Journal a software glitch added 4,875 phantom ballots in a South Dakota election for a seat on the Rapid City Council last week. The bug was about to cause a runoff vote.

by / June 8, 2009

According to the Rapid City Journal, a software glitch added 4,875 phantom ballots in a South Dakota election for a seat on the Rapid City Council last week. The bug was about to cause a runoff vote. The initial Tuesday night report said incumbent Ron Kroeger received 49.96 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent plus 1 vote re-election requirement. The recount found he actually received 51.8 percent, more than enough to secure his seventh term over challengers John Roberts and Steve Rolinger.

When officials combined information from the three ballot scanners for a grand total, the software glitch added thousands of votes. In reality, only 5,613 ballots were cast, not the 10,488 initially reported.

"It's not that we found ballots. It's not that we lost ballots," Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson is quoted as saying. "It's just combining them didn't work."

No one suspected a problem, Pearson said, because the scanners had worked smoothly all night.

But late in the evening, election officials started to question the initial vote tally of 10,000 votes, which seemed excessive. A manual audit revealed the error.

Blake Harris Contributing Editor