KCRG: “Because different counties use different methods a uniform approach for counting ballots wasn’t performed.”
After a flawed and inconsistent recount left at least 22 voters disenfranchised and thousands of ballots unexamined in Iowa’s Second Congressional District, a bipartisan group of county auditors in Iowa have issued recommended reforms to address some of the issues that left legally cast votes uncounted in IA-02. As KCRG reported last night, these Republican and Democratic election administrators recognize the need for fixes that will guarantee that Iowans’ constitutional right to cast their vote and have that vote counted is not infringed upon as a result of outdated rules and unworkable, arbitrary deadlines.
By Ethan Stein, February 25, 2021
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The Iowa State Association of County Auditors gave a list of recommendations to lawmakers on reforming the state’s rules regarding recounts.
The first recommendation, which comes from a bipartisan group of auditors, is to stop different counties from recounting ballots in different ways. This is a fix to a problem seen in the recount of Iowa’s Second Congressional District, which was decided by six votes.
Under current law, auditors have 18 days to recount their ballots regardless of the number of votes it has to recount. The deadline and the number of votes were one reason some counties decided to recount ballots by machine rather than by hand. Some counties recounted their ballots using a mix of both methods.
But, the use of multiple methods meant the standard of what makes a counted ballot for a candidate is different by county.
Eric Van Lancker (D), who was the chair of the bipartisan group and the Clinton County Auditor, said machines and people count a choice on a ballot in a different way.
“When you send them through the machine, the machine has its standards for reading those ballots,” he said. “But when you hand count those ballots, there’s a different standard to how you count those ballots.”
Van Lancker said that different standard comes from voter intent, which a recount by hand could determine. He explained voter intent through an example of an overvote, which is when somebody votes for more candidates than they can vote for on a ballot.
“The machine is simply going to read that as an overvote and no vote is counted,” Van Lanker said. “But when you hand count, that folks who are hand counting, that recount board hand-counting, can say ‘Oh no, this person clearly crossed off this candidate and shaded in for this candidate so it’s clearly a vote for this candidate.’”
Because different counties use different methods a uniform approach for counting ballots wasn’t performed.
Read the full piece here.