Auditor Roxanna Moritz attended the Iowa State Association of County Auditors (ISACA) summer conference last week.  The program covered how to reconcile TIF districts, preservation of pioneer cemeteries, changes in GASB accounting standards and several other topics.  Auditors also heard from the Deputy Secretary of State for Elections regarding reprecincting and other election related topics.

The program also included setting priorities for the Association’s legislative agenda, with the top four priorities receiving special efforts for passage.  This year those priorities include allowing auditor offices to close on the second Saturday before primary and general elections, closing absentee voting at noon on the day before election day, reducing the size and number of envelopes involved in absentee voting, and allowing all mail ballot elections in municipal elections for cities with fewer than 200 residents.  Eliminating city vacancy elections from the general election ballot dropped from four last year to five this year.

Auditor Moritz especially supports closing absentee voting at noon on the day before an election.  While smaller counties may not be impacted by this mandate, larger counties are severely impacted.  For example, in Scott County more than 900 people voted absentee at the auditor’s office on the Monday before the 2008 general election.  To ensure against voter fraud, the records for all of those voters had to be updated in the I-VOTER system, and precinct officials had to receive those updates to cross voters off their voter registers.  This process was repeated throughout Iowa and taxed the I-VOTERS system. 

While this mandate may have made sense in the past when voting was much more restricted, there now are more opportunities to vote by mail, at satellite locations and through use of election day registration.  And there are good reasons to eliminate the mandate.  In 2008 auditor staff were creating updated voter lists until late in the evening, increasing the possibility of entry errors.  Precinct officials had to receive the updated voter information later still, by phone, and in some cases well after midnight, also increasing the possibility of error.  Further, other vital tasks must be delayed as updating the voter registers must take priority to prevent voter fraud.  Finally, election day is already sixteen hours long for our precinct officials.  Tasking them with updating lists after midnight on the night before the election is too much to ask, and has already led some officials to quit.  Good precinct officials are hard to come by.