Effort to open controversial election records to public fails
Secretary of State Monae Johnson sponsored measure to enable cast vote records to be open to public
A bill that would have allowed county auditors to produce cast vote records and make them public failed Wednesday amid concerns that it would impose an unfunded mandate on counties.
Cast vote records emerged as a lightning rod issue across the country following the 2020 presidential election. The records are generated by ballot tabulators and can be used to audit the results of an election. The records do not include information about who cast a ballot.
Following the 2020 election, county auditors across the country were greeted with a slew of open record requests demanding the records. Some governments responded by making the records available – even putting them online so that people could access the records and audit results. Arguments in favor of making them public centered on maintaining faith in elections – particularly when there is mistrust of electronic machines used in some quarters.
In South Dakota, the Office of Hearing Examiners ruled that cast vote records are not public. In response, Secretary of State Monae Johnson sought legislation that would make them public.