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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published May 30 2013

State of North Dakota adjusts November vote counts

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.

The issue came up after a Grafton precinct ran out of ballots and had to make copies. Since the copied ballots could not be electronically scanned, they were hand-counted and believed to have been entered by hand into the voting system twice.

The federal court system uses elections to update its database of voters and those able to perform jury duty. The vote tallies came in with a higher count than the number of actual voters, so the federal court system requested the 300 missing names from the state, which led to the discovery.

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.

By law, the canvassing board is composed of the clerk of the Supreme Court, secretary of state, state treasurer, and chairmen from the two political parties that received the highest vote totals for governor in the last general election – in this case, the Democratic and Republican parties.