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Voters in this November’s election will, for the first time, be able to vote at the same location for city municipal candidates along with school candidates

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed legislation in 2017 that required the combined administration of city and school elections to begin this year.

“Part of it is to bring the opportunity for more voters to participate in both elections by bringing them together,” said Crawford County Auditor Terri Martens.

Bethany Linkenhoker, deputy Crawford County auditor, said voters in the county will see the biggest change in how they vote in school board elections.

In the past, county residents who were members of school districts of nearby counties would have to travel to that county to cast a ballot in a school election.

Starting this year, all voting will be done in the county in which an individual lives.

“No more crossing county lines for school elections,” Linkenhoker said. “Now you will vote at your general election precinct.”

“People who live here will vote here,” Martens said.

Voting for area community college directors will be included in the election.

School-specific ballots will be provided for any school precinct that exists within the area of the municipal election precinct.

The tabulated votes will then be sent to the appropriate school.

“I think it makes much more sense because we would have a school election in September that didn’t have very many voters come out for it and then turn right around and have another election a couple months later that also doesn’t have that many voters turn out,” said Deputy Crawford County auditor Amy Pieper.

“It makes so much more sense getting that combined into one election. It’s more work for us behind the scenes with all the different ballots that go here and there but I think it will be much easier for the voter.”

Martens said her office will be using the general election precincts for all communities except for Denison.

Instead of using Denison’s three precincts, all voting in Denison will take place in one location, which has yet to be determined.

The process may be confusing at first, Martens said. With that in mind, Linkenhoker has been preparing postcards that will be sent out in the next few weeks with information about voting locations.

The combined election will cause more work for the auditor’s office in the run-up to the election – and a much wider variety of ballots will have to be printed.

Ballots will be created for any possible city, school or community college precinct that a potential voter may require.

“Even though we may not currently have any registered voters for a specific ballot, we still have to create a ballot in case a voter were to happen to reside in a particular area before the election,” Martens said.

County auditors’ offices are still working out how all the entities will pay for election costs.

Voting machines and ballot scanners must be programmed for each voting location and the ballots have a cost.

“We’re going to try to equalize what the schools and cities pay,” Martens said.

Linkenhoker noted that because school districts will now be having an election run by multiple counties, each school district will receive a bill from each of those counties.

In the past, each school district was assigned to a control county for election purposes, meaning election bills came from one county, she said.

“All of the auditors and staff of these counties are working to figure out a unified way to bill,” Martens said.

Paying for election workers will end up costing each election entity less because of the combined election, Linkenhoker said.

“That fee will be able to be divided by three; the cities, community colleges and the school will pay a portion,” she said.

The county will be introducing new touchscreen voting pads, which are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

Voters will have the option of using the touchscreen to make their selections. A paper ballot will then be printed and the voter will put the ballot in a scanner.

“You are still getting a paper ballot so you can see what you did,” Pieper said.

The touchscreen pad does not save any data and is not connected to the internet.

If voters are comfortable using the touchscreen for voting, fewer printed ballots may be required in future elections, which would save the county money.

The following are the mayor and city council seats up for election on November 5

Arion: mayor and three council members; Aspinwall: mayor and five council members; Buck Grove: mayor and five council members; Charter Oak: mayor and three city council members; Deloit: mayor and three city council members; Denison: mayor and three city council members (at large, at large to fill a vacancy and second ward); Dow City: mayor and two city council members; Kiron: mayor and three city council members; Manilla: mayor and three city council members; Ricketts: mayor and three city council members; Vail: mayor and two city council members; Westside: mayor and three city council members

The following are the county school board seats up for election on November 5

Charter Oak-Ute: District I - two seats, at large – one seat; Denison: at large – two seats; Boyer Valley: District I – two seats, District II – two seats; Schleswig: at large – three seats; IKM-Manning: District 1A – one seat, District 2A – one seat, at large – one seat, District 2B (to fill vacancy) – one seat; Ar-We-Va: at large – three seats; East SAC: at large – three seats; OABCIG: District 1 – one seat, District 2 – one seat, District 5 – one seat; MVAO: District 2 – one seat, District 4 – one seat

The following community college directors will be up for election on November 5

WITCC, District IX; IWCC, District VIII; ICCC, District IV

Each of the entities may have a public measure on the ballot. Nomination papers for school offices should be turned into the school secretary. Nomination papers for city offices should be turned into the Crawford County Auditor’s Office.

Nomination papers will be accepted from August 26 through September 19.

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