Iowa Secretary of State and Commissioner of Elections Chet Culver announced this week that the city precinct plan submitted by the City of Storm Lake has been approved.
According to Iowa Code, all county, city and school redistricting and reprecincting plans must be reviewed and approved by the Secretary of State's office.
"I am very pleased to announce... that Storm Lake's plan for city precincts was approved by my office," Culver said.
There were no major changes to precincts in the City of Storm Lake, though the county and city did enter an agreement to allow some rural residents on the outskirts of Storm Lake city limits to cast their ballots in Storm Lake precincts.
According to the Code of Iowa, there are several technical requirements that each plan must satisfy before it can be approved.
"My office has been working with the non-partisan Legislative Service Bureau and the Iowa Attorney General's office to make sure that all the standards required by Iowa law are satisfied. Storm Lake's City Council and its staff can be proud of all the hard work to satisfy these requirements," Culver said.
According to Iowa law, counties, cities and school boards must redraw precinct and/or ward boundaries following the Census every 10 years.
"The redistricting and reprecincting process is a great example of democracy at work," Culver said. "Citizens have a chance to impact this process and have a powerful voice because Iowa law requires public hearings on the proposed redistricting and reprecincting plans before they are submitted to the Secretary of State's office."
Culver also said the process serves as a reminder to local election officials that "now is a perfect opportunity to begin addressing other issues associated with redistricting and reprecincting."
"Now that the plan has been approved, county election officials can begin selecting modern polling places that meet state and federal accessibility standards," Culver said. "They may also want to consider siting polling places in central locations that make it easier to attract voters."
The Buena Vista County board of supervisors did discuss merging or dividing precincts in August of this year and conducted a public hearing on the matter. Citizens at the public meeting requested that the county should not reduce access by requiring voters to drive any further than necessary to vote.
Storm Lake's new plan becomes effective on Jan. 15, 2002. To the extent the new plan differs from the old plan, the old precincts must be used for all elections before Jan.15, 2002.