Supervisors hear about Nov. 2 low voter turnout from Burke
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors discussed the current fate of the Summit Pipeline project at the Nov. 9 regular meeting. During public comment, the supervisors heard from Jan Norris, who shared that some other counties along the proposed pipeline are exploring options for inspection services.
“Other counties have established a bidding process for inspection services, should the pipeline be approved,” said Norris.
In Shelby County, Norris said one of their supervisors has filed an official objection with the Iowa Utilities Board, asking that eminent domain not be used. She also shared some tips for the supervisors to share with constituents.
“With the Dakota Access Pipeline, the first official voluntary easements were filed for the whole property, not just the 50 feet of easement the landowners thought they were signing, and they had to hire legal representation to fix the errors, so they should be mindful of that,” Norris commented.
A list of landowners, Norris said, is being compiled. Currently there are 200 landowners opposed to the project, and the list is still growing.
The supervisors then moved to a first-tier canvass of the Nov. 2 city/school election. County Auditor Stephanie Burke shared some details on how the process went.
“The total turnout for the latest election was 16.23 percent county-wide, and everything went smoothly,” Burke said. “We also had an audit from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office; it is a mandate. They randomly chose Villisca for the audit, and they manually counted the ballots and it matched to the tape that was collected on election night,” said Burke.
While turnout was low, it was only marginally lower than in 2019, when the city and school elections were first combined. The total turnout in 2019 was only 20 percent. Burke said the low turnout was not an unusual trend.
“Unfortunately, the local elections, where they can really make an impact, are the lowest turnout. This is not only true for Montgomery County, it is for the entire State. Turnout depends on who is on the ballot, whether you have contested races or not, and if there is something else on the ballot that would draw citizens to the voting booth like a bond issue. New legislation was the first election where the absentee voting window was shortened. Previously, Iowans could begin voting 29 days prior to Election Day. It was decreased to 20 days. This new law could have contributed some to the low turnout of early voting,” Burke explained.
The first and second tier canvasses were mandated when the city and school elections were combined. When cities, schools and area colleges are shared between more than one county, each county canvasses county results for all cities and schools within their county. This canvass is known as the first tier canvass. Non-control county abstracts are then forwarded to the controlling auditor of each jurisdiction to be compiled and canvassed at a second canvass known as the second tier canvass. Burke said, as an example, there are Montgomery County residents that live in the Griswold School, Essex School, East Mills School and Iowa Western Community College districts. Because the voters have to vote at their General Election polling place in the county they reside in, those votes for those races have to be forwarded onto the control counties to be canvassed.
Burke also shared the results of the handful of write-in votes that were tabulated from the races where no candidates had filed, and the winners of the write-in votes.
“William Hardy was selected for Coburg Mayor; for the Coburg City Council, it was Amy Eggleston and Tammi Redd. Elliott Council At-Large was Nancy Nelson, and for Grant City Council At-Large, the write in winners were Jeff Brown and Clay Amos,” stated Burke.
On election night, Burke said poll workers still followed guidelines to ensure that voting machines are clean. In addition, counter shields were used, and voters were also given a new pen to use to mark their ballot. Also, there were no provisional ballots filed in the county. The first tier canvass was approved, and the second tier canvass was scheduled for the Nov. 17 Board of Supervisors meeting.
In other business, the supervisors:
• Approved the treasurer’s ending fund balance for October, in the amount of $12,324,461.
• Approved a tax transfer from Rural Services Basic to Secondary Roads, in the amount of $42,089, and from General Basic to Secondary Roads, for $2,606.