One county official blamed new technology and another blamed early voting for publishing election results abnormally late — after midnight Wednesday — in Dakota and Scott counties.
The Scott County auditor attributed the delay to a “software glitch” with new equipment from Dominion Voting, a Canada-based company that sells tabulators. Scott County began using the equipment during local elections last year and so did Dakota County, according to a news release.
Dominion did not respond to requests for comment.
In Scott County, election officials tested early batches of ballots last week, according to auditor Cindy Geis, but the volume of absentee and in-person ballots from this year’s election overwhelmed the software.
“We will be working through this issue with the vendor to get it remedied for any future election,” Geis said.
Election officials rely on equipment such as tabulators to process batches of ballots. Judges then sort them by precinct, Geis said. The tabulators lagged in processing the ballots, Geis said, so counting votes “became more of a manual process than we had anticipated.”
“We thought we would be walking out the door [Tuesday night] at 10:20, quarter to 11,” Geis said. “In the meantime, we didn’t get our results up until about midnight, even though they were all done.”
In Dakota County, human error prompted a delay. County staff provided “incorrect ballots” — versions intended for residents of another precinct — to voters at two service centers in West St. Paul and Apple Valley and then received 16 of those incorrect ballots — out of 25,000 total — during early voting.
Some precincts ended up with extra ballots and others were short, so election officials removed one or two ballots at random from each of the 14 affected precincts and recounted all votes, in accordance with state law, according to Tom Novak, director of the county’s public services and revenue administration department. As a result, 16 ballots went uncounted, officials explained.
“It took several hours to balance, draw and physically rerun the precincts,” the county said in a news release Wednesday.
Novak said the county should have done a better job of notifying voters about the delay via social media.
“We’re confident that the … information out there is accurate, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” he said.
He said various candidates for office and county commissioners contacted elected officials about the delays.
Cara Schulz, who was elected to the Burnsville City Council, said she didn’t know she’d won until she checked results about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Schulz ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2014 and recalled that results that year were delayed until about 2:30 a.m. “Dakota is usually one of the last to come in,” she said.
Results for Dakota County began trickling in just after 2 a.m. The latest results weren’t posted until after 4 a.m., according to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office.
Mower and Kandiyohi counties also reported election results at similar times, said Ryan Furlong, spokesman for the Minnesota secretary of state.