Scott County Auditor: Late notice on new rules for elections

Republican bills to restrict voting are advancing in many states.
Republican bills to restrict voting are advancing in many states.
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 3:52 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Scott County Auditor’s office says it learned of an emergency directive and a new set of rules on the eve. of Tuesday’s special election.

Roxanna Moritz says her office learned on March 1, 2021 that her staff had missed an email from the Secretary of State’s office on the directive regarding absentee voting at health care facilities that put into effect a new section of the Iowa Code, which requires that at least 65 percent of polling places be opened.

According to a news release, Moritz learned of the change during a telephone conversation with the Secretary of State’s office, after the office sent an email on February 8, 2021 regarding the emergency directive on limiting the reduction in polling places.

Several school districts in the county are seeking voter approval of revenue purpose statements, which allow them to use 1-cent sales tax revenue on school improvements. The Eastern Iowa Community College District is also holding a referendum on a bond issue. The auditor’s office says it started planning for the election in January. The plan included opening 12 vote centers, two each in the Bettendorf, North Scott and Pleasant Valley School Districts, and six in the Davenport School District. From past experience, Moritz says they knew these would be low turnout elections and decided to use vote centers as a cost-saving measure. The auditor has used the centers to save money in past school elections, which typically result in low turnout.

“Unfortunately neither I nor my staff reviewed the email and did not learn about its importance until discussing another matter with the Secretary’s Legal Counsel. We discussed the matter with her and she agreed that it was too late to make any changes in the election,” Moritz said.

“Our whole goal in using vote centers is to save money for our schools and taxpayers in what are extremely low turnout elections,” she added.

As of 11:00 a.m. Tuesday less than one percent of registered voters had cast ballots, including absentee ballots.

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