Iowa SEAT Certification –  On April 14 – 17 two staff members and I attended Iowa State Election Administrators Training (SEAT) Session I. Iowa SEAT provides certification in administration of Iowa election laws and the practice of election administration. This was the first of three sessions needed to obtain certification as election administrators. Prior to our attendance Scott County was one of only two counties in Iowa which did not have any personnel certified in election administration.

Iowa was one of the first states to introduce specialized training for election officials. The program was set up by county and state election personnel following the events of the year 2000 general election. They recognized that Iowa needed to upgrade its election programs to guarantee our elections are fair and accurate. Iowa State University helped to put the program together along with the Iowa State Association of County Auditors and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. The concepts provided by this program have been used nationally to help train election officials in other states.

There are two more sessions to attend before myself and two members of my staff become certified. Depending on the county budget situation, I hope to have all election personnel certified within the next two to three years.

Rpxanna Moritz and Staff Display Their SEAT Certificates

Roxanna Moritz and Staff Display Their SEAT Certificates

Post Election Audit Bill Stalls in Iowa Senate – As you know, I support post election audits. So does Iowa Secrtary of State Michael Mauro. He formed an ad-hoc committee which included county auditors, staff from his office, Iowans for Voting Integrity and the League of Women Voters to study this issue and develop suggested legislation. The bill before the legislature came from the work of this committee. This bill would help assure the public that the optical scan tabulators used throughout Iowa to count ballots are working properly, and that Iowa elections are fair and accurate. It would have required hand counts of ballots from randomized precincts to insure the machines function properly. In Scott County we would count ballots from four precincts selected by lot.

The bill passed the Iowa House. Unfortunately, it stalled in the Senate committee to which it was assigned, and never made it to the floor of the Senate before adjournment. Post election audits are a good idea, and the legislature should take up this bill during next year’s session.

 

Auditor Roxanna Moritz Supports Hand Counted Audits of Vote Tabulators Such as the One Shown Above

Auditor Roxanna Moritz Supports Hand Counted Audits of Vote Tabulators Such as the One Shown Above

Electronic Poll Books – The Elections Department staff and I have been monitoring development of electronic poll book software system by Cerro Gordo County Auditor, Ken Kline. An electronic poll book is a computer system that allows election officials to review and process voter information during an election, and is used in place of paper-based poll books. The functions of an electronic poll book include voter identification and verification, precinct assignment, ballot assignment, voter history update and other functions such as name change, address change and redirecting voters to their correct voting location. Commercial systems are rather expensive, and require a separate vendor supplied programmer to program the system for a specific state.

The software developed by Ken Kilne is specifically programmed to reflect Iowa election law. Secretary of State Michael Mauro has arranged to make this program available free of charge to counties wishing to use it. It runs on a precinct basis with one or more note book computers in a stand alone network linked by commercial software. The system is a complement to the existing paper-based system so that in the event of a power outage or other catastrophic event the election would continue. As voters are processed at the polling place their information is stored in the computer memory and later down loaded into the I-VOTERS database. This would avoid a lot of tedious hand data entry (and the cost of over-time and temp employees) to update voter history and new registrations.

This system also contains an internal logic tree to process special cases, such as election day registrations, changes of address within a county and provisional voting. Processing these cases would involve printing information via standard mailing labels which would be affixed to standardized paper forms. This would reduce the error rate in these special cases. Finally, it would identify and prevent felons listed in the Department of Correction system from voting. An error means that either a person was wrongly denied the right to vote, was wrongly discouraged from voting or was wrongly allowed to vote.

To date, poll books have been used successfully in three special elections in Iowa .  Poll workers have uniformly praised the system for reducing difficult decision making into simple yes or no questions with definitive answers. Election officials report that poll books have significantly reduced errors (essentially to zero) in these elections compared to other elections.

Election Dept. Supervisor Richard Bauer and Senior Elections Clerk LaDonna McCollum Are Two Staff Members Helping to Evaluate Electronic Pollbooks

Election Dept. Supervisor Richard Bauer and Senior Elections Clerk LaDonna McCollom Are Two Staff Members Helping to Evaluate Electronic Pollbooks