One week after auditors around the state of Iowa decried changes to Iowa’s election laws passed by the Republican legislature, and Democrats across the state accused the GOP of efforts to “suppress the vote,” Scott County Roxanna Moritz violated state law while conducting a special election.
A concerned Scott County resident emailed The Iowa Standard, saying the special election was “one for the record books.”
State law says 65 percent of precincts must be open. Scott County has 63 precincts — meaning 41 should have been open.
The county had 12 open.
Roland Caldwell, manager of the office, admitted the error.
“We made a mistake,” he said.
Caldwell said all of the emergency directives from last year expired last year. The office started planning the election when it was first notified in early January about the districts wanting to have special elections.
Caldwell said turnout for these elections is “always low” — generally around three percent or less.
“So we decided let’s use vote centers to save some money rather than open up all of our polling places,” he said. “We started that process. Then, in February, we got a new directive by email and we just missed it. We didn’t…I don’t know exactly what happened, but we just did not realize what the email was saying when we got it, that it created a new directive. And because of that,t hen we had to open up 65 percent of our polling places.”
Caldwell said that should have been 41 of the 63 precincts.
“We’ve got egg on our face,” Caldwell said. “We’re very depressed about it. We just missed it. I don’t know what else to say — we’re very sorry.”
Caldwell said the farthest someone typically has to drive to vote is 30 miles. This election, he said, was odd because it was by school district. Even with just 12 precincts open, Caldwell said it is likely nobody had to drive farther than 30 miles.
The concerned citizen emailed Moritz, asking why “almost all rural voting locations” were closed on Tuesday.
“This seems to be suppressing voting in the rural areas of the county,” the citizen wrote. “As a Democrat, your party is constantly crying about voter suppression and here you are suppressing voters here in rural areas, who are mostly poorer than voters in the major cities.”
The citizen said he would travel through three precincts that were closed. He went “half-way” across the county to vote in Eldridge.
“I find this is a huge slap to the fact of residents in Scott County,” he said. “Witha ll the scandal tied to your office recently, why are you breaking state law by not having 65 percent of the polling locations open today?”
Moritz made headlines when she forged time records last year: