Middle school bond issue survives challenge
"Yes, yes, no..,."
"10, 10, 11...."
This series of words and numbers, repeated over and over again Thursday afternoon, would have made little sense to someone passing by the open meeting room doorway in the Clay County Administration Building; but the significance of these utterances could not be disputed as the first recount of an electronic touch voting machine in the state of Iowa's history took place in the Spencer.
In the end, the 62-38 super majority count which passed a $4 million middle school bond issue in Spencer on April 20, withstood the scrutiny of Iowa's first ever electric system election recount.
"No one knows but you what you do when you're in that voting booth - be it a lever machine, or a piece of paper or an electronic system. Nobody knows and that's the way it should be," assured Clay County Election Commissioner Marge Pitts. "But once it has been cast, you want to make sure the vote you cast is counted accurately.
That's what was proved today."
According to Pitts, there were no corrections made to the total vote numbers that were approved by the Clay County Board of Supervisors shortly after the April 20 election date.
In addition to the state historical value of the recount, it also has significant Clay County historical value as well, marking die first ever recorded election recount in the county.
Pitts was pleased with what she referred to as a "good exercise in democracy."
"I think it went very well. The three individuals on the recount board were very cooperative with one another and followed the process as it was supposed to be followed."
She continued, "There were a couple of machine tapes they had to add up a second time, to confirm they had counted correctly. They were all willing to do that. It came out and they were all satisfied and the count matched the canvass."
John Simmons, appointed to the Recount Board by a group of 99 petitioners seeking the recount; Jon Bang, appointed to the board by election commissioner Pitts; and Dean Jacobsen, chosen by Simmons and Bang to sit as the third member on the board were all three sworn in by Pitts at 1 p.m. to take part in the state's history making event.
The board worked with the absentee paper ballots first, then worked through six special ballots before beginning the tape print outs from the 12 machines used at the precinct vote. Bang read aloud the individual yes and no votes on the paper work, Jacobsen recorded the tally.
To drop below the 60 percent mark, and impact the outcome of the bond issue, over 70 votes would have to have been incorrectly counted.
The April 20 bond issue was the fourth put before the voters in the Spencer Community School District. The first three failed to pass. The most recent, received the necessary 60 percent super majority support in unofficial results, capturing 61.93 percent of the 3801 ballots cast. Also, 22 blank ballots were submitted.
There had been some questions raised about the accuracy of the electronic systems used in the vote.
Pitts indicated that Thursday's results should answer some of those questions. She added, "By Jan. 1, 2006 at least one direct touch screen voting device will have to be in every precinct, in every county, in every state in the nation."