UPDATE: Agreement reached between City of Ruthven, county auditor on voting issue

UPDATE (May 22):

RUTHVEN, Iowa (KTIV) – An agreement has been reached between the City of Ruthven and the county auditor’s office on future voting for residents.

In February state officials changed Iowa Code HF566, requiring the use of electronic voting machine (EVM) for municipal and school board elections.

Ruthven does not have an EVM, but city officials in March unanimously approved providing $10,000 to the Palo Alto County auditor’s office to purchase one.

That request was denied by auditor Carmen Moser. Instead, Moser offered Satellite Absentee Voting from 2 – 8 p.m. on October 29 in the Ruthven Social Center. In addition, Moser offered that people could vote in person at the county courthouse in Emmetsburg, or in Graettinger.

On Tuesday officials say an agreement has been reached between the county and the city. Ruthven voters will have satellite absentee voting available in the city and Mallard, Iowa, on Tuesday, October 29. All county voters will be able to cast ballots at the satellite locations.

In addition, voters can cast an absentee ballot at the county courthouse 29 days before Election Day, absentee by mail or vote at your current General Election precinct on Election Day.

Officials say the Commissioner of Election will provide additional information about the combining of the city and school elections as it becomes available.


PREVIOUS (May 17): 

RUTHVEN, Iowa (KTIV) – City officials in Ruthven, Iowa, are asking the Palo Alto County Auditor to reconsider the denial of the purchase of an electronic voting machine (EVM) for the city.

During the May 22 city council meeting, the city council will discuss Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser’s decision to not approve the $10,000 purchase of voting equipment for the city.

The meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 22 will be held at the Ruthven Social Center, 1503 Rolling St.

In February state officials changed Iowa Code HF566, requiring the use of EVM for municipal and school board elections.

According to the city, Palo Alto County only has three of these machines for voting locations in Emmetsburg, West Bend, and Graettinger.

In March the city unanimously approved providing funding to the county auditor for purchasing the equipment, allowing the city to be its own voting precinct.

That request was ultimately denied by Moser.

According to a letter provided by the city, Moser’s decision would offer Satellite Absentee Voting from 2 – 8 p.m. on October 29 in the Ruthven Social Center. In addition, people could vote in person at the county courthouse in Emmetsburg, or vote in Graettinger, a 16-mile drive for residents.

In that same letter, the city election showed 430 registered voters, with 129 people casting ballots in the November 2017 city election.

Moser said in the letter for approximately 200 voters, the equipment would cost $50 per voter. Moser said this option would only allow the auditor’s office to provide one ballot style for the city.

Meanwhile, Moser the satellite absentee voting option would cost $250 at $1.25 per voter.

In a letter from Mayor David Kirk, he said the average lifespan of an EVM is 15 years and would be used in municipal, general and school board elections, creating the average cost of $3.34.

Kirk also said with redistricting in 2021, more people in the county would be able to vote in Ruthven.

“Over 26 percent of our citizens are over the age of 65,” said Kirk. “Many of our friends and neighbors do not have the means to travel to another city to vote. We believe this puts an undue burden on our community and infringes on their right to vote.”

Blake Branch

Blake Branch

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