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Post-Election Audits

South Dakota Codified Law calls for a post-election audit that reviews voted ballots in five percent of voting precincts, comparing the paper record to the results produced by the voting system. The post-election audit in South Dakota will be conducted manually by hand-counting. The post-election audit process will thoroughly review procedures performed before, during, and after the conduct of an election. The review of voted ballots is to verify whether the equipment used to count votes worked properly and yielded the correct result.


Post-Election Audit Guide

South Dakota Codified Law

South Dakota Administrative Rules

Email McLeod’s to purchase a post-election audit kit:

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What is the timeline for completing the post-election audit?

A: Within fifteen days following the completion of the state canvassing of a primary or general election, the auditor of each county shall conduct a post-election audit of the ballots cast in the election.
SDCL 12-17B-18

Q: Who appoints the audit board?

A: The county auditor shall appoint a county auditing board of sufficient size to promptly complete the audit.
SDCL 12-17B-18
ARSD 5:02:23:03

Q: Does auditing board need to take an oath?

A:Yes, the members of the post-election auditing board must take an oath.
SDCL 12-17B-18
ARSD 5:02:23:01

Q: What is the makeup of the audit board and requirements for being a member?

A: The members of the county auditing board may not all be members of the same political party. A member of the county auditing board must be a registered voter in the county in which the audit takes place. An individual may not serve on the county auditing board if the individual is a candidate for the office that is on the ballot being audited. A poll worker may be a member of the county auditing board.
SDCL 12-17B-18
ARSD 5:02:23:05

Q: Who pays for the post-election audit?

A: The office of the secretary of state shall reimburse each county for the cost of any post-election audit, as enumerated in ARSD 5:02:23:15

Q: What percent of precincts are being audited?

A: The post-election audit must be conducted in five percent of the precincts in the county by manually counting all votes cast in two contests and comparing the official results of the manual count to the results for those precincts presented at the county canvass.
SDCL 12-17B-20
ARSD 5:02:23:02

Q: How and when are precincts selected for the audit?

A: The county auditor shall select the precincts for the audit at random without the use of a computer in public during the meeting of the county canvassing board.
SDCL 12-17B-20

Q: How many ballots are being reviewed?

A: All the ballots in the precincts selected, however, if the combined total of all ballots cast in the precincts selected does not exceed one hundred ballots, then additional precincts must be randomly selected until the total of all ballots exceeds one hundred ballots. For the purposes of this section, the term precinct includes vote centers, but does not include any precinct designated as an absentee precinct.
SDCL 12-17B-20

Q: Which contests will be audited?

A: The county auditor shall select the contests for the audit at random without the use of a computer in public during the meeting of the county canvassing board. One contest randomly selected for the audit must be a statewide contest. If there are no statewide contests on the ballot, the auditor shall randomly select another contest on the ballot. If there is only one contest on the ballot, that contest must be audited. The random drawing can be conducted by any means available to the county auditor except by the use of a computer.
SDCL 12-17B-20

Q: Is the audit open to the public and who needs to be notified?

A: A post-election audit must be open to the public. Members of the public shall keep a reasonable distance so as to not interfere with the audit process. The county auditor shall post notice of the time and place of the audit in the same manner as a public meeting agenda pursuant to SDCL 1-25-1.1 and provide the notice to the county chair of each political party that has a candidate on the ballot.
SDCL 12-17B-21
ARSD 5:02:23:07

Q: Do the results of the audit need to be published?

A: If the results of the post-election audit show a discrepancy in the results greater than the margin by which any contest for elected office on the ballot in the county was decided, the auditor shall notify the candidates for that office. Any candidate who receives a notification from the county auditor shall have an additional seven days from the date from when the auditor sends the notification to file a verified petition requesting a recount of the official returns pursuant to SDCL 12-21-10 or 12-21-11. The petition may be filed regardless of the margin by which the contest was decided.
SDCL 12-17B-23

Q: What if the contest I select to audit already had a recount?

A: If a recount of any contest is conducted in a county, the county auditor is not required to conduct a post-election audit.
SDCL 12-17B-24

Q: What happens to the ballots after the audit has been completed?

A: The county auditor shall reseal and retain the ballots upon the completion of a post-election audit pursuant to 12-20-31.
12-20-31Destruction of ballots and pollbooks--Period for which held--Pending recount or contest.
The officer in charge of an election may destroy voted ballots and pollbooks from a nonfederal election sixty days following the election at which such ballots were voted. However, they may not be destroyed if any recount or contest of such election is pending. The officer in charge of an election may destroy voted ballots, pollbooks and all other election material relating to a federal election twenty-two months after the election at which the ballots were voted. For the purpose of this section, a federal election is any election to nominate or elect persons to the United States Congress or other national elected position, including national issues or questions. If a ballot is used for a federal election and a state or local election, the ballots and all other election material shall be maintained for twenty-two months. All federal election material may be removed from the ballot box if it is maintained in such a manner as to guarantee the safety and integrity of such material.

Q: How should I be sealing the ballots and machines?

A: Please see in ARSD how you should seal tabulating equipment. 05:02:09:01.04. Sealing tabulating equipment.
Please see in rule how you should seal the ballot box. 5:02:16:37. Sealing of ballot box.

Q: When performing the audit, what guidelines should be used for determining if a mark counts as a vote?

A: Only those marks that the tabulator would count are to be counted by the audit.
ARSD 5:02:23:09

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