New electronic voting machines will be made available for Tuesday’s school board elections at all five Union County precincts.
They have been purchased by the Union County Auditor’s office, and will be used in all future elections in Union County.
Two types of machines were purchased. The first are ballot readers. They collect and electronically read ballots fed into the machine by precinct officials.
“Our machines were getting to the point where they were outdated,” said Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell. “And so we thought it was time to upgrade the machines — the software part of it was getting outdated. It was no longer going to be supported. So we knew we had to do something. It was time.”
Also purchased were new touch-screen voting-interface machines that voters can use to submit votes. The machines then print out voters’ ballots. They are specially equipped to aid hearing and vision impaired voters submit ballots.
The touch-screen interface machines include headphones, and a console equipped with brail buttons that allow those who are hearing- and vision-impaired to navigate the ballot.
One of each type of machine will be made available at each Union County precinct.
“I think these will be used,” said Hysell. “I think people will really like them. Instead of having something that’s not going to be used, to me that’s wasting money. To me, let’s get a product that people are going to use.
“I encourage people to use them,” continued Hysell. “I think they’ll really enjoy them. They’re not just for the hearing- and vision-impaired, anybody can use the touch-screen machines.”
Tuesday’s school board elections feature two candidates, Sharon Snodgrass and Galen Zumbach, running for three open spots on the Creston Community School District Board of Directors.
Voters will also decide, in a referendum included in the school board ballot, whether to continue the 6-cent levy for Southwestern Community College (SWCC) that has been in place for the past 10 years.
All 15 Iowa community colleges have 6-cent levies in place. The levy must be approved by a simple majority of voters.
Funds gathered from the 6-cent levy are used by SWCC to purchase instructional classroom equipment exclusively.
“It goes right to the students,” said Tom Lesan, SWCC vice president of economic development. “It’s in the classroom — it’s not salaries, it’s not new roads, it’s not anything else. It’s just classroom equipment. That’s how we upgrade computer labs, that’s how we get new technology in the classroom and all that. And we’re not trying to sneak it by people — we want people to know what it is.”
SWCC President Barb Crittenden also emphasizes to tax-payers the levy will not increase their bottom-lines, and that it is a continuation of a levy already in place.
Overall, SWCC’s total tax asking is less than 88 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.
“And we encourage everybody to get out there and vote,” said Hysell. “Our school elections seem to be more of a smaller (turnout) election, and this is the time to get everybody out and vote.
“These are the elections that affect you the most,” said Hysell. “These affect your taxes. And, yet, they seem to be our smallest elections for turnout. So use your right.”
Visit the Union County Courthouse’s website for more election information at unioncountyiowa.org