Welcome to the Auditor’s Blog – This is the first of what I plan to be many entries to keep the public informed of important events and activities in my office.  I welcome comments and questions by directly contacting me at rmoritz@scottcountyiowa.com, or calling me at 563-326-8631 or 563-370-3915.  You can also write to me at Roxanna Moritz, Auditor & Commissioner of Elections, 600 West 4th Street, Davenport, Iowa 52801.

Primary Duties – The County Auditor has three primary duties.  The first duty, as Commissioner of Elections, is the conducting of elections.  The second is the production and maintenance of the official records of the county including Board of Supervisor minutes, and financial operations such as accounts payable, payroll and tax certifications.  The third is maintaining a portion of the real estate property tax system, including the maps showing the ownership of property located in the county (also known as plat maps).  Elections are by far the area which generates the most interest in the Auditor’s office, and consequently I will be writing about elections more than the other areas.  However, from time to time I will be providing information about the other duties of my office, including some of the lesser known ones. 

Tribute to Predecessor – The first thing I want to do is pay tribute to my predecessor, Karen Fitzsimmons.  She was a fixture in our community, having served as county auditor for 31 years.  Besides serving as Auditor she served on numerous boards and committees.  The entire community was shocked and saddened by her sudden death last spring.  She will be missed. 

Thank You to Staff – Next, I want to pay tribute to the staff and election workers of the Auditor’s Office.  The year 2008 was very tumultuous for them.  They had not only the loss of Karen, but the retirement of the former operations manager and the election department manager.  Thus, in a few short months this office lost 90 plus years of election management experience. 

Then we faced the record setting 2008 election.  More people voted in this election than any in recent history.  We shattered the previous record for absentee and early voting with more than 40 percent of the vote cast before Election Day.  At the same time, we started two new Election Day programs. First was the introduction of the AutoMark touch screen machine to assist voters with disabilities in casting their ballots at the polls.  Second was same day voter registration at the polling place which allows citizens to register to vote and to cast their ballots at the same time.  However, despite these many adversities the staff and election workers carried through with flying colors.  If you are a staff member or election worker who reads this blog, thank you for your service. 

Election Review – After getting settled into my new position as Auditor, the staff and I began a review of the last election with an eye on improving procedures to make elections as easy and frustration free as possible.  One thing we discovered is that the AutoMark machines (noted above) were not well utilized in the last election. 

Consequently, to better inform the public I will hold periodic meetings to familiarize voters with the AutoMark voter assistance technology.  Also, please contact me or my staff if you would like a presentation for your group or organization. 

VAT Requirement – Through the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), Congress required all polling places in the United States to have ballot marking equipment to assist people with disabilities to independently cast their ballots at their polling places.  The technical acronym for this is VAT (voter assistance technology).  HAVA also requires that this equipment be available to any voter who wants to use it. Besides this mandate from the federal government, it is my personal belief that everyone, regardless of disability, has the right to vote in person at the polls if that person so chooses.  AutoMark, the VAT machine used throughout Iowa and Scott County, is easy to use and available to any voter. 

AutoMark Presentation – Our first presentation will be Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Genesis Heart Institute, 1236 East Rusholme Street, Davenport.  Our presentation will be in conjunction with a public forum for the Davenport Second Ward Alderman Election.  Please join me for this hands-on demonstration of the AutoMark ballot marking machine. 

Election Reminders – Tuesday, March 3, 2009 LOSST* Election (Davenport Promise) for all of Davenport, and for Second Ward only, city council Alderman Election.  Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Voters should be pre-registered for this election or they may register and vote on Election Day with proper identification.  Please visit the Auditor’s Website for details on proper identification. 

*The so-called Davenport Promise is an election to modify the Local Option Sales and Services Tax, hence the acronym LOSST.