An error apparently due to a hand-counting error, one that wasn’t caught by state authorities but rather the federal courts, saw one North Dakota counting 300 more votes than there were voters in the county according to the Grand Forks Herald.
BISMARCK — More than six months after North Dakotans voted in the November general election, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost 174 votes and Gov. Jack Dalrymple gained one.
Vote tallies for all statewide races and local races in Walsh County were changed by the State Canvassing Board on Thursday after the federal court system realized in mid-February that Walsh County had 300 more votes cast than the number of voters.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger said human error happens, and he thinks the canvassing board has never met this long after an election before.
“We have a good history in North Dakota as far as elections go, but there is one factor that hinders us,” he said.
Our Secretary of State seems to have a rather cavalier attitude about the error:
Jaeger said the canvassing board could have ignored changing the numbers since it didn’t change any of the elections.
“But the federal court system brought it to the state’s attention, and that doesn’t seem right,” he told the board members.
This is a big deal. Senator Heitkamp lost more than 10% of her margin of victory in votes, making that ultra-tight race even tighter. And what about the impact on legislative races? The votes apparently didn’t have an impact on the outcome, but only because the Senate race there was won by Joe Miller by a wide margin and the two House members – Chuck Damschen and Dave Monson – ran unopposed.
But what if the votes had made a difference? This error was detected after the legislative session was completed. What if one of those legislators had actually lost, but had gone through an entire session casting votes for bills they really weren’t qualified to cast votes for?
The error was apparently due to the use of photocopied ballots that the county had to use when they ran out of official ballots. The photocopied ballots couldn’t be scanned, and there was an error in hand-counting them.
Still, this whole thing stinks, and exposes some major flaws in our balloting system.