The Vermillion Rotary Club gathered for its weekly meeting in the Freedom Forum on the USD campus at noon April 25. Our meeting was chaired by the Rev. Mercy Hobbs, Vermillion Rotary president, who also led in prayer. Opening songs were led by Joe Edelen with Jack Noble at the piano. Sergeant at Arms Al Pravacek raised a few dollars through several fines and reports of happy events from Rotarians.
Rotarian Dan Van Peursem ably conducted the noisy auction of a bike helmet to help defray the expenses of providing helmets to all Vermillion second-graders. The Helmet was won by Jack Delaney.
Rotary's program this week was provided by South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson, who spoke about the new touch-screen voting machines that will be available at all polling places and in the county auditor's office for absentee voters. While most voters will doubtless continue to vote with a paper ballet, just as in previous years, the electronic voting machine will enable people with various disabilities to vote privately and independently, that is, without help from another person.
In our view, the system was wisely chosen so that the voting machine produces a printed paper ballot that is just like the one voted by hand. These printed ballots are then counted by a counting machine along with the ballots filled out by hand, just as in past elections. This assures that a permanent record of each voter's ballot will be preserved.
The electronic machine will not count votes, nor contain any record of how people who voted by machine voted, thus guarding against the kind of voter machine fraud that has plagued some of the larger cities in the U.S. The voting machine Mr. Nelson displayed and demonstrated worked very well, and has already been tried in South Dakota municipal elections with good success.
The availability of electronic voting was mandated by the U.S. Congress after the 2000 presidential election problems in Florida, which also made several other changes in voting methods around the United States. The largest drawback is cost. The purchase of 568 of the new voting machines, plus the 53 new vote-counting machines needed to use the computer produced ballot, cost $4.3 million.
Ninety-five percent of this money has come from the federal government with 5 percent covered by our county governments.
The future costs of upkeep and operation will be borne by the counties, thus adding substantially to the cost of elections in South Dakota. In opening and closing his program, Secretary Nelson emphasized that every voter will have a choice whether to use the electronic voting machine or to vote the old-fashioned way by filling out his own ballot. For someone used to the old ballot, voting by machine will definitely take longer.
Our meeting was closed with our usual "50-50" drawing for the cash door prize, and the singing of one verse of My Country ?Tis of Thee (the door prize winner was not present, so the amount from this week is added to next week's drawing).
Delta Kappa Gamma installs officers
A springtime brunch was enjoyed by members of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, April 22 at the Silver Dollar.
Installation of officers was held for 2006-2008 � President, Kerry Koppang; first vice president, JoAnn Stockland; second vice president, Marianne Upward; secretary, Sharon Hanson.
Pat Cafruny was appointed treasurer and Marjean Barta will continue to serve as parliamentarian.
Corinne Rath will hold the office of junior past president.
An initiation ceremony was held for Sandra King.
Service awards were presented to Mildred Herren, 50 years; Bonnadell Fredrickson, 40 years; Mary Geffre Johnson and Margaret Melby, 35 years.
Golden Gift chairman Mary Johnson reported the chapter has given 100 percent to the Golden Gift fund.
Susan Gapp received the Eta Chapter Scholarship. The Grand-in-aid was presented to Kristen Guinan, USD student.
The book project for third graders will continue in May. Each third grader will receive a book for summer reading.
Members were encouraged to attend the Alpha Pi State Convention at the Kelly Inn in Yankton on June 2 and 3. It is sponsored by Xi Chapter of Yankton.