Mistakes in early voting delay reporting of 228,000 votes in Dakota County


Mistakes in the ballots given out to early voters caused election results in Dakota County to be delayed until after 2 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, well after results had been posted from 85 of the 87 counties in MInnesota.

In a statement released at 11 a.m. Wednesday, officials with Dakota County said some early voters in 14 precincts were given the wrong ballot. As a result, election officials had to rerun ballots for every precinct in Dakota County before results could be released.

Precinct 2 in Rosemount was one of the precincts affected by the error.

The county operated three early voting locations, and incorrect ballots were handed out at two locations, one in Apple Valley and one in West St. Paul. At both locations, eight incorrect votes were cast, meaning 16 votes held up reporting of the more than 250,000 registered voters in Dakota County.

"Due to the excess ballots and to be in accordance with state law, Dakota County had to rerun all 140 precincts," the statement said. "It took several hours to balance, draw and physically rerun the precincts."

Officials said they could not report results from any precincts — even those unaffected by the incorrect ballots — until the issue was resolved.

Results began to post to the Minnesota Secretary of State's website just after 2 a.m., and all were online around 4:30 a.m.

Throughout the night, election officials were quiet with information for those asking about the delay.

"We're still working through our early voting and will post results soon," Dakota County Elections Manager Andy Lokken said in an email to the Hastings Star Gazette at 11:59 p.m.

At 1:22 a.m., Dakota County Commissioner Liz Workman, who was running for re-election in District 5, posted on Twitter that "Dakota County elections are trying to balance voter statistics countywide to ensure accuracy and expect to post results soon."

On Wednesday, Tom Novak, director of the Dakota County public services and revenue administration department, said the county plans to work to improve both voting and communications procedures to "ensure election results are timely and accurate."

"We apologize for creating any frustrations with the delay in reporting results," Novak said. "Our election department worked tirelessly to ensure results were accurate and to abide by state law."

In total, around 228,000 votes were cast in Dakota County. Of those, around 67,000 voters participated in early voting and voted via absentee ballots.