Combined precincts expected to save time, money

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Dickinson County Elections Clerk Jordan Moyer has combined some Lakes Area voting precinct locations in anticipation of the upcoming Nov. 5 election. The election will be the first to combine Iowa's city and school elections a decision made by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. Pate hopes the combined elections will increase voter participation, and Moyer said the change should save money as well.

"It's two, separate, big elections," Moyer said. "If you have heated races, you've got all those people coming out for one election, and then you've got people coming out for the city election if you've got heated races in those, which we do."

But increased voter turnout will also increase the need for parking. Moyer said limited parking at some locations like Okoboji City Hall and Lakeside Laboratory had caused issues for voters in the past. Those locations, and others, have been combined for a total of five polling locations across Dickinson County the Lake Park Community Center, Dickinson County Expo Building, Roof Garden ballroom, Milford Community Building and Terril Memorial Building.

Moyer said some precincts in Arnolds Park and Okoboji will be combined and held at the Roof Garden. She said the change is ideal, since the recently-renovated venue is centralized for voters and has ADA compliant access ramps. The combined location will also cut back on the number of poll volunteers needed for the election.

"Because I'm centralizing those and I'm only using one machine, you would only have to have three people there," Moyer said. "I'll have a couple more than that in case it gets busy, but I don't have to have six people like I normally would, which is saving money."

Moyer explained the changes are only temporary until after the state's 2020 census. If and when the changes are made official, Moyer said the county will send notification to all of Dickinson County's 12,000 registered voters.

The Secretary of State's decision also means voters will be going to their precinct-level locations in Dickinson County to cast their votes for school boards even if that school board is across the county line. The region is home to several consolidated school districts, and Moyer explained each Dickinson County precinct will have the appropriate school ballot for voters at that location. As an example, she said some residents in Superior previously traveled to Estherville to vote for the Estherville Lincoln Central School Board, but the ballots will now be held by both Dickinson and Emmet County officials.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 5. Absentee voting begins Oct. 7 and ends Nov. 4. Moyer said voters casting their ballots on election day will no longer be able to do so at the Dickinson County Auditor's Office and must go to their voting precinct.

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