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New absentee balloting system worked well during this month's election

Posted: Thu, Nov 14, 2019 2:19 PM
A sample of the ballot mailer now being used by the Winneshiek County Auditor's Office

What a difference a year can make.  Last year there was a big dispute over the system used in the State of Iowa for counting absentee ballots.  The center of that dispute was in Winneshiek County, where Republican Michael Bergran and Democrat Kayla Koether were separated by 8 votes with 32 absentee ballots not counted because they arrived from the Post Office after Election Day without postmarks.

The issue would eventually wind up with the Iowa Legislature, which rejected Koether's appeal, but also changed election procedures for future elections.  Those new procedures don't go into effect officially until next year, but they were adopted here in Winneshiek County.

Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines says his office used new ballot mailing envelopes for the November 5th election.  Each envelope had a bar code approved by the US Postal Service, as well as a printed number.  The ballots were automatically scanned by the Postal Service and an on-line report was created.

That report showed that one ballot which was received in the Auditor's Office after the November 5th election, but which the scanning showed to have been mailed on November 4th, was declared valid and was added to the election totals.