Scott County bucked a national trend of lower voter turnout in the 2014 general election.  The overall national turnout was 36.3 percent, the lowest turnout since the 33.9 percent turnout in the 1942 general election at the height of World War II.  Turnout in Scott County was much better at 48.6 percent.

The total vote was 61,894 and the total number of registered voters was 127,378.  The total vote was about 5,000 more than in either 2010 or 2006.  In 2010 turnout was 46.7 percent with 56,993 voters casting ballots out of a total registration of 122,044.  In 2006 turnout was 49.1 percent with 56,482 voters casting ballots out of a total registration of 114,971.

Also of note, absentee and early voting continues to grow, this time constituting 46.2 percent of the total votes cast.  In non-presidential year general elections the percent of ballots cast early has grown from 22.5 percent in 2006, to 33.5 percent in 2010, up to the current 46.2 percent.  Total number of early votes has grown as well, from 12,727 in 2006 to the current 28,622.  This represents a 225 percent increase in early votes.

Six Scott County polling places have changed since the 2012 General Election.  Four of these locations changed after the 2014 Primary Election and two others changed in 2013.  New voter registration cards were mailed to all registered voters in these precincts listing their new polling places.  For those precincts which have changed since the 2014 Primary Election additional post cards will be mailed before Election Day to the same registered voters to remind them of their new polling locations.  Listed below are the affected precincts with a link to specific information about each polling place on the Auditor’s Web Page, including a Google Map for each location.

Changed After the 2014 Primary Election

Allens Grove:

New polling place – Donahue Fire Station – 302 N. Main St. Donahue

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=Donahue+Fire+Station+%28AG%29

Davenport Precinct 8-1:

New polling place – Adventure Christian Church – 6509 Northwest Blvd. Davenport

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=Adventure+Christian+Church

Davenport Precinct 8-2:

New polling place – Northside Baptist Church 4601 Division St. Davenport

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=Northside+Baptist+Church

Eldridge Precinct 2:

New polling place – Eldridge United Methodist Church – 2604 S. 2nd St. Eldridge

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=Eldridge+United+Methodist+Church

Polling Places Changed in 2013

Davenport Precinct 2-1:

New polling place – High Point Bible Chapel – 2600 W. 63rd St. Davenport

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=High+Point+Bible+Chapel

Davenport Precinct 6-2:

New polling place – Christ’s Family Church – 4601 Utica Ridge Rd. Davenport

http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/polling_places.php?place=Christ+Family+Church

The Auditor’s Office has received many inquiries about how a voter can cast a “mixed” or “split” ticket when marking the ballot.  Iowa Code Sections 49.94 through 49.97 address how a voter can mark a ballot for partisan offices.  Section 49.97 (shown below) specifically addresses this question.

49.97 How to mark a mixed ticket.

If all candidates for whom a voter desires to vote were not nominated by the same political party or nonparty political organization, the voter may indicate the candidates of the voter’s choice by marking the ballot in any one of the following ways:

1. The voter may mark a straight party or organization vote for the party or nonparty political organization which nominated some of the candidates for whom the voter desires to vote and vote for candidates of other parties or nonparty political organizations by marking the voting targets next to their names.

2. The voter may vote for each candidate separately without marking any straight party or organization vote.

In other words a voter may cast a straight party vote by filling in the oval for the party of choice and also cast a vote for a candidate who is not a member of the party of choice by filling in the oval next to that candidate’s name.  Alternatively, the voter may vote for each candidate individually.

The 2014 General Election is in full swing in Scott County.  With twenty days to go before Election Day the Auditor’s Office has already processed more than 19,540 mail absentee ballots.  This compares with a total of 15,491 mail ballots processed in 2010.  Further, we have processed more than 860 voters in our office.  This compares with a total of 912 voters processed in office in 2010.  If these rates of early voting continue the 2014 General Election could be the first election where more votes are cast before Election Day than on Election Day.

SATELLITE VOTING BEGINS MONDAY AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Voting at the two Davenport Branch Libraries, the Bettendorf Library and the Scott County Library in Eldridge begins on Monday, October 20th.  Voting at these sites will continue for two weeks, Monday through Saturday.  All ballot styles will be available at any of these sites.  The hours for the various libraries are listed below.

Bettendorf Public Library – 2950 Learning Campus Dr., Bettendorf IA

     Mondays – Thursdays:  12:00 noon – 6:00 p.m.

     Fridays & Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Eastern Ave. Davenport Library – 6000 Eastern Ave., Davenport IA

     Mondays & Wednesdays:  12:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

     Tuesdays & Thursdays – Saturdays:   10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Fairmount St. Davenport Library – 3000 N. Fairmount St., Davenport IA

     Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

     Tuesdays & Thursdays:  12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Scott County Library – 600 N. 6th Ave., Eldridge IA

     Mondays – Thursdays: 10:00 noon – 6:00 p.m.

     Fridays & Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

In addition, voting will also be available at the Rogalski Center on the St. Ambrose University Campus for one week, October 20th through October 24th from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. All ballot styles will be available at this site.

Changes in Voting by Mail Procedures

The Iowa legislature enacted some changes to the voting by mail procedures which affect with this year’s General Election.  The biggest change is that the return mail envelope has been combined with the affidavit envelope as a way to reduce costs and voter confusion.  The return mail envelope is self-explanatory.  The affidavit envelope has the voter’s affidavit which the individual voter must sign.

The affidavit is located on the back of the envelope in the upper right hand corner. This is the same affidavit voters sign at their polling places before voting.  If the voter does not sign this affidavit then by law the voter’s ballot cannot be counted until it is signed.

Most voters have adjusted to the change without any problems. However, our office has received about 350 return ballots on which the voters have not signed the affidavit.  Unfortunately, such a ballot cannot be counted until the voter comes to our office and signs the affidavit, and the affidavit must be signed before Election Day.  Alternatively, the voter can send us a new absentee ballot request and start the process again.  Finally, the voter can vote at the regular polling places on Election Day, but may have to vote a provisional ballot if the election officials cannot verify the status of the absentee ballot with our office.

Auditor Roxanna Moritz and Official Records Clerk Cathy Voelkers recently attended a 15 hour “hands on” class in legal descriptions.  This class was for the beginning to the moderately experienced user and covered many aspects of legal descriptions.  Participants used protractors and other instruments as part of the “hands on” experience.  Cathy has been cross training to assist in the Plat Room with property transfers and this class was very helpful to her. 

The class began with a brief look at surveying methods, both past and present, followed by an overview of the Public Land Survey System and how it ties into working with legal descriptions. The class covered many of the different types of legal descriptions, from dividing a section of land all the way through working with curves and angular measurements. The class also went into resolving conflicts from ambiguous descriptions to how water can affect a boundary in a legal description.  At the end of the class both Roxanna and Cathy passed the exam approved by the Iowa Department of Revenue.

This week the Scott County Board of Supervisors will recognize 72 precinct election chairs for their contributions to making democracy work and for their years of service to Scott County.  The Board resolution states, “The Board recognizes that precinct election chair people are the unsung heroes of our county’s election process, and expresses its gratitude and recognition for the part these Scott County citizens play in assuring that all voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots on Election Day.”

As a group, our precinct election chairs have 940 years of experience in working the polls on election day.  Six chairs have 20 or more years of service as poll workers, and eight have 30 or more years of service.  Four chairs bear special recognition for more than 40 years of service; Linda Holder with 44 years, Audrey Linville with 46 years, Fae Harvey with 48 years, and Myra Halsey with an amazing 51 years of service.

On Monday, August 19th Auditor Moritz and Board Chair Larry Minard will present certificates for years of service to each of the 72 precinct chairs.  Those with twenty or more years of service will also receive a leatherette holder, while those with thirty or more years of service will receive a wall mount plaque.

The most recent version of the Photo ID bill under consideration in the Iowa legislature contains a provision which would require delivery of absentee ballots to residents of assisted living facilities by two person, bipartisan special precinct teams.  This provision is unrelated to the issues involved with photo ID requirements.  It would not increase voting privacy or ballot security for these voters.  However, it would increase the cost of elections.

Current law requires this kind of absentee ballot delivery for nursing home residents and hospital patients.  In the 2012 General Election 290 residents of nursing homes voted.  Our office employed six teams to deliver absentee ballots to 271 of these residents, or 95 percent of the total voting.  An additional nineteen residents voted at the polls. 

This law was first enacted in the 1970s to ensure that residents of nursing facilities were allowed to vote in private, without undue influence or interference by third parties.  Due to their infirmities, nursing home residents are very dependent on facility staff, and so could be subject to such interference, either real or perceived.  

But can the same be said for residents of assisted living centers?  In Scott County 356 residents of assisted living centers voted in the 2012 Presidential Election; 316 voted by absentee ballot, 40 voted at the polls. The Auditor’s Office did not receive any complaints about staff from these centers attempting to influence residents on how to cast their ballots. 

Also, the forty residents who voted at the polls amounted to 11 percent of the total number of residents who voted.   Generally, residents of assisted living centers are significantly healthier and better functioning than nursing home residents.  They are not dependent on the help of others to nearly the extent of nursing home residents. 

Because assisted living residents have better health, greater mobility, and lesser dependence on others than nursing home residents there is not the need to have special bipartisan teams help these residents with voting. 

Further, requiring 316 people to vote an absentee ballot only through these special circumstances will more than double the cost of these teams.  During the 2012 General Election the approximate wage and administrative costs for the seven teams used in that election were $2,510.00 and $1,250.00, respectively.  We estimate the wage cost for an expanded program of 13 teams would be $5,670.00 plus administrative costs of $2,810.00.  This change would increase election costs by an estimated $4,720.00; more than double the cost to Scott County for providing absentee ballots to these voters. 

Finally, there is another cost to this proposal; the freedom and self-respect of the residents in assisted living.  Our office already receives complaints from nursing home residents about being forced to receive their ballots from the special teams.  These complaints will increase in number and volume from people who will see this as an affront to their dignity and independence.

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