Post-election, Bob Litz plans to step down from post as county auditor

By: 
Dave Baumeister, county correspondent

Dave Baumeister/For the Journal

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz informed county commissioners that he would be resigning his position at the end of this year. Litz was first elected auditor in Nov. 2010 and even though his current term runs through the Nov. 2022 election, he is retiring early.

SIOUX FALLS – The Minnehaha County Commission accepted the resignation of Auditor Bob Litz at their Tuesday, Oct. 6, meeting.
 
Since Litz is an elected official, there was a question of whether or not commissioners really played a part in accepting the resignation, but they went through the motions, just in case.
 
Although he said he has been thinking about stepping down for some time, he made it official last week when he notified commissioners that he would be retiring as of Dec. 31.
 
Litz plans to finish up the current election cycle prior to leaving office.
 
He was first elected to the position of auditor in November of 2010. Prior to that, he served five years on the Sioux Falls City Council.
 
He will be leaving his position as auditor two years early, and county commissioners will be looking at a temporary replacement for the final two years of his term.
 
Prior to the meeting, Litz said that he and his wife were looking forward to moving to their “winter” home in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
 
Litz, a Republican, talked about how disappointed he was with all of the talk surrounding the undermining of the current election process.
 
As a county auditor, Litz’ main responsibilities surround the election process, and he takes slights against the accuracy of that process personally. While he admits there are some differences in the voting processes in different states, he is quick to point out that he believes elections are conducted with the same veracity in all locations.
 
Litz, himself, has been in the forefront of bringing some of the cyber-security measures used in other states to Minnehaha County, and he sees all of those measures as improving the process.
 
He said he was upset at the “discrediting of democracy” by some people for political reasons.
 
One of the big culprits of perpetuating what isn’t true, he said, is social media.
 
“Over half of what people put out on social media is just not true.”
 
Litz compared that phenomena with the rise of European fascists in the 1930s with the spread of AM radio.
 
“Radio made propaganda way too easy then,” Litz said, “and people fell for it.”
 
He also cited the similarity between what people currently post online and how that has become the mainstream replacement for the drivel and gossip that had been saved for “the bars on Friday night.”
 
Although Litz is retiring before his term is up, he feels that he owes Minnehaha County’s taxpayers his diligence for the upcoming general election.
 
He has been very pleased with the number of volunteers that have stepped up  in 2020 for the election. He explained that there are plenty of people from both main political parties serving as poll watchers, and they always do a good job of preserving the “natural balance” of an election.
 
But, he added, plans have been made in case people show up to try to intimidate or affect voters, poll workers or the election, as a whole, even though he hopes the election has no glitches.
 
However, Litz does expect that getting all of the results tabulated accurately will take longer than usual. He has said on several occasions that his obligations are to the voters and not the news media and candidates who just like to get results quickly, so they can “get back to their parties at the Holiday Inn.” The number of absentee ballots will be unusually large this election, but Litz is confident in the process being fair and accurate.
 
While his office is doing all they can to have these ballots ready ahead of time, according to state law, they cannot open any of the ballots before 7 a.m. on election day. All ballots are checked to see if signatures match, were cast by a registered voter and polling books checked so no voter casts more than one ballot.
 
Each of the commissioners thanked Litz for his work and complimented him on how the election process has always been handled in the county.
 
 
County mask rules
 
Jill Franken, public health director for the city of Sioux Falls spoke about upward trends they have been seeing in COVID-19 cases.
 
Due to that, this Monday, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken put requirements in place that masks be worn by employees and customers at all city buildings.
 
Commission Chairperson Jean Bender said that when she would meet with county department heads on Tuesday afternoon, she was planning on implementing a similar policy for county property, although the county has continually enforced the mask rules. To make it official, Bender asked other commissioners for their support on such a requirement, which they all readily gave.
 
Learn not to burn!
 
During public comment, Emergency Management Director Jason Gearman asked the public to take notice of very dry conditions in the county and around eastern South Dakota.
 
With warm, dry conditions continuing for the next week, he expected the danger to become even greater, so he urged residents to be careful, but also said that next week he plans to implement a fall “burn ban” by making it an agenda item for commissioners to act on.
 
Commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. Tuesdays on the second floor of the Minnehaha County Administration Building at Sixth and Minnesota in Sioux Falls. Public comment is always encouraged, but people attending are reminded that social distancing guidelines limit how many people are allowed in the meeting room at one time.

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