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Winneshiek County wants the legal fight over Iowa House District 55 ballots to be held in Decorah

Posted: Tue, Dec 4, 2018 9:30 AM

Winneshiek County is asking for a change of venue for the lawsuit filed over the counting of ballots in the Iowa House district 55 election.

A Polk County judge heard arguments in the case Friday in Des Moines.  Democratic State Assembly candidate Kayla Koether had filed a petition in the court, asking that 33 absentee ballots received by the Winneshiek County Auditor's Office after the election, but before the official vote canvass, be included in the election totals.  Koether trails Republican Michael Bergan by nine votes as of Monday.

Winneshiek County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten says state law says any lawsuit involving a county government official (such as Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines) must be held in the county in which that official serves. 

The change of venue would also give county officials more input into the proceedings.  For example, changes were made at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the scope of questions to be considered at the 1:30 p.m. court hearing in Des Moines, but it was impossible for county officials to get to Des Moines by 1:30 p.m.