SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

School Board elections were held on Tuesday, September 8th. Our thanks to all the candidates for putting themselves forward and conducting campaigns for office. Our system of self-government does not work unless people are willing to make it work. Davenport had six candidates for three positions and North Scott had four candidates vying for three positions. All other races were uncontested.

The candidates for the Davenport School Board were Richard Clewell, Pat Zamora, Larry Roberson, Karen Boyd, Jon Rasler and Deborah Dierkes. Congratulations to Clewell, Zamora and Roberson for their victories.

The candidates for the North Scott School Board were Elizabeth Bosworth, Joe Slater, Mark Kruse and Robert Frieden. Congratulations to Bosworth, Slater and Kruse on their wins.

The winners for the Bettendorf School Board are Scott Tinsman, Jr., Betsy Justis and Pepper Trahan. The winners for the Pleasant Valley School Board are Francis Dohmen, Heather Witters and John Archer.

Three members were elected to the Eastern Iowa Community College District (EICC), including Shirley Stewart, Milton Shaw and John Frampton. The ballot measure to continue the building and maintenance levy for EICC passed in Scott County with 75.7 percent voting yes and 24.3 percent voting no.

Unfortunately, the turn out for this election was extremely light, with only 2.86 percent of registered voters casting ballots countywide. The best voting precinct was North Scott 6 with a 20.03 percent turnout.

ELECTRONIC POLL BOOK COMES TO SCOTT COUNTY

My office conducted an experiment in the use of an electronic poll book in one precinct in the North Scott School Board election. The precinct involved was North Scott 4 which votes at the Scott County Library in Eldridge. This precinct had the most number of voters in the county, 307 in total, so this gave the system a good test. I noted in an earlier post that my staff and I were following the development of the Precinct Atlas program by Cerro Gordo County, and its evolution to a statewide program maintained by the Office of Secretary of State. The poll book is contained in a laptop computer and can aid poll workers in handling the increasingly complex task of conducting elections, making election results more accurate in terms of properly processing special case voters, such as election day registrants or provisional voters. Also, we hope to see cost savings in the extensive amount of data processing that occurs after an election as this data will now be electronically stored and can be uploaded into the I-VOTERS, the statewide voter database.

The poll workers liked using the program, although it does take some time to learn it if you have never before used a computer. Workers who were familar with computers caught on much faster. It handled all of the special voter situations we wanted it to handle, making poll worker jobs easier for them. Most telling, the amount of time it took to update voter history was cut by two-thirds. Most of that time was spent on formatting, a one time job, and the actual time it took to upload the records was less than a second!

We plan to expand the experiment to more precincts in the upcoming municipal elections, hoping to target three to five precincts. We hope to get a better test of the system during the city elections as many more people vote in these elections compared to school board elections. Our goal is to assess whether to use the program in next year’s general election, and if so, determine the number of precincts in which to use it.

PRIMARY ELECTIONS FOR CITY COUNCIL IN BUFFALO AND DAVENPORT’S THIRD WARD

There will be a primary election for city council candidates in Buffalo and Davenport’s Third Ward on October 6th. In Buffalo there are seven candidates vying for six positions for the city election on November 3rd. Those candidates are Kim Buchanan, Christine Carson, Olin Meador, Danny Raney, Dana Jo Smith, Dave Stickrod and Debbie Wilson. Buffalo voters can vote for three candidates, with the top six vote getters moving onto the November election.

In Davenport’s Third Ward the candidates are Bill Boom, Michael Elliott and Paul Vasquez. Voters can vote for one candidate, and the top two voter getters move onto the November election.

IOWA STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY AUDITORS (ISACA)

I attended the summer meeting of ISACA on July 28 & 29. This was a part conference, part business meeting bringing county auditors from throughout Iowa together to review changes in election law, to share best practices from many different offices, and to discuss and vote on a variety of legislative proposals. We heard from Michael Mauro, Iowa Secretary of State, and his staff about various issues (more on this below).

The business meeting involved discussion and voting on sixteen proposals for changing Iowa law related to county auditors and their duties. Six of the proposals related to non-election items, including assessment of medical examiner fees, real estate transfer fees, misuse by cities of property tax abatements and various issues related to townships. All six measures passed.

There were ten proposals related to elections. Eight were approved and two were voted down. Several of the proposals were technical in nature, but some were more substantive. Some of the measures which passed included increasing the maximum population for precincts from 3,500 to 7,500; changing the law to make it clear that Iowa allows so-called no-fault absentee voting; and allowing for in-person use of ballot scanners for absentee voting at satellite locations. The two measures which failed included counting write-in ballots only if they might change the outcome of an election and removing from election various non-partisan positions, such a soil and water commissioners, from the general election ballot.

REVIEW BY MICHAEL MAURO – IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE

One of the highlights of the conference was the address by Mike Mauro. Mike is a former Polk County Auditor, so he brings an “in the trenches” approach to the Secretary’s office. He reported that in the 2008 general election the new election day registration law led to a sixty-seven percent decrease in provisional voting from the 2004 general election. The reason for this was that most voters who took advantage of this provision were previously registered in Iowa, but had failed to update their registrations after moving to a new county. Without this law, 45,000 otherwise qualified voters would not have had their votes counted. He also reported that Iowa has fully converted to a voter verified paper ballot system. These changes, along with Iowa’s defacto no-fault absentee voting, have led to very favorable reviews of Iowa’s election system by the Pew Charitable Trust and the United States Election Assistance Commission.

Mauro also noted a variety of smaller changes in election law to assist county auditors in carrying out their duties and helping voters to cast their ballots. These changes included an ongoing revision of administrative rules to make them clear and less redundant, allowing auditors to identify errors on absentee ballot affidavits so that voters can correct these errors (previous law required the rejection of absentee ballots when there were errors on voter affidavits), and setting specific dates on which special elections can occur. In all he noted ten changes either made by his office or proposals he made which were passed by the legislature.