Scott County is the only major county in Iowa which has no staff nationally certified in election administration.  As noted in my last post, Scott County is one of only two counties which does not have state certification in election administration.  Certification is important because it leads to improved methods of operation and efficiency in the conduct of elections.  The result is improved service to voters and to taxpayers

As Scott County Auditor, I intend to change this situation by obtaining both state and national certification.  To begin the national certification process I attended a training seminar at Auburn University from May   to June    sponsored the Election Center.

The Election Center is an arm of the National Association of Election Officials.  It is the premier organization for training and certification of election and voter registration administrators.  The Center also conducts annual events such as national conferences and several regional workshops and seminars throughout the year which are designed specifically for government elections units.  The Center trains between 600 and 1,000 election and voter registration administrators every year.

The seminar I attended was part of the Center’s Professional Education Program (PEP).  The PEP is a joint effort of the Center and Auburn University’s public administration faculty and offers college level instruction for the professional growth and development of government officials in the elections and voter registration process.  These classes are conducted in several locations throughout the year.  The PEP won an award as the most outstanding continuing education program in America from the National College and University Continuing Education Association (1995).

My classes included Communications in Election and Voter Registration Administration, Law of Elections and Voter Registration, and History of Elections Part I and Part II.  I have additional classes to take before I obtain certification. 

Pictured with Roxanna is Douglas Lewis, the Executive Director of the Election Center.

Pictured with Roxanna is Douglas Lewis, the Executive Director of the Election Center.

Changes in State Law

The 2009 Iowa General Assembly is now closed with the legislature enacting many bills. There were several bills which affected the operations of the auditor’s office in terms of administration of health benefits, including medically necessary prosthetic devices, health insurance coverage for diabetes self-management and health care coverage of adult children.  The finance staff is working to incorporate these changes into our operations.

In the elections arena the legislature passed one bill which will cause a significant change in operations of general elections, and several bills which will have lesser effects. The most significant bill is the one for counting absentee ballots on the day before election day. This bill allows county auditors to opt for counting these ballots early.  Also, it mandates counting absentee ballots early when ballot counting was not complete by 10:00 p.m. of the previous general election.  The special precinct election board is in charge of the actual tabulation of votes and is prohibited by this new law from revealing the results of the vote until after all other tabulation has been completed on Election Day.  I intend to count absentee ballots early in general elections with significant amounts of absentee voting.  This allows ample time for an administrative recount if a voting machine malfunctions.

Other changes include allowing for opening the polls for city elections at 12:00 noon instead of 7:00 a.m.; requiring county auditors to retain records from precinct caucuses for 22 months; changing some of the time frames for absentee balloting in health care facilities; and requiring at least seven day prior notification to the political parties and candidates  of the intent to open a satellite voting station to allow them to appoint observers.