Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver has announced that Spencer will host the first in a series of public meetings to discuss voting system improvements and changes that voters will experience beginning in 2006.
The series of public forums will be held throughout the state, starting with a meeting 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at the Clay County Regional Events Center at 800 West 18th Street. Culver encourages Iowans throughout northwest Iowa to attend.
There will also be a meeting in Fort Dodge at the Iowa Central Community College Career Education Building in Rooms 109-110 from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31. The college is located just off Highway 169 at 330 Avenue M in Fort Dodge.
The meeting will provide information on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), federal law that requires all states to implement specific election reforms by 2006. To comply with HAVA, local counties and the state are finalizing plans that will utilize new voting systems technology and improve polling place accessibility. During the public meetings, highlights of the Iowa plan will be presented, along with comments from local officials. Input will be sought from attendees.
Culver describes federal election law changes within HAVA as the most expansive national effort to improve voting processes in 40 years.
"In this special election, the federal government included financial resources with the requirements it passed into law. This means that our counties are given a rare opportunity to invest in better election technology and that election laws are administered consistently across all 1,800 Iowa precincts."
To comply with HAVA provisions, voting equipment will be upgraded or replaced to meet higher standards and to allow each voter to cast a secret ballot without assistance. Buena Vista County plans on spending $112,000 to upgrade voting equipment to meet the federally mandated HAVA requirements. Other elements of the HAVA plan include development of a statewide voter registration database, improved training for poll workers and election officials, voter education, and efforts to make polling places accessible.
Secretary Culver, Iowa's chief state election official, has been working with a nonpartisan, statewide advisory committee, including county auditors, county supervisors, state officials, and other interested groups to implement Iowa's HAVA plan. Iowans are encouraged to go to the Secretary of State's Web site, www.sos.state.ia.us., to see a complete schedule of public meetings and more detailed information on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).