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When the residents of Washington County cast their votes Nov. 8, they will do so using the traditional paper ballot.
While switching from the less technologically advanced voting method is generally not top of mind as people arrive to their polling place, Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer did say the county has been taking steps for when the transition will have to be made.
“At some point we’ll have to find new equipment here in the next few years,” admitted Widmer, “but obviously that’s a big investment.”
Widmer noted that several counties still use the more old-fashioned method and that he is always investigating the best system for the county in anticipation of that eventual change.
“I’m already looking at different systems that people are wanting to demonstrate,” offered WIdmer. He has also taken steps to put money aside in the budget over the last couple of years to help cover the costs of new voting machines when it comes time for the county to invest.
Widmer also mentioned that the digitalization will not stop at the ballots. “We may need to look at something called electronic poll books.” Here, an electronic database could someday soon replace the poll books that workers use to look up registered voters when they come to place their votes.
Widmer reiterated that not all electronic systems are created equal and that they need to take into account all the factors, including cost, when making a decision. “There’s several different types and we need to make the best decision for Washington County,” Widmer said.
Widmer also had a reminder for Kalona residents: they will cast their votes at the library, instead of the recreation center.
As the particularly divisive election cycle heads towards the homestretch, Widmer had one final message for voters harboring concerns about the sanctity of the electoral process, regardless of how they cast their votes.
“As far as rigged elections go, the state of Iowa, as well as Washington County, has a reputation for holding fair and honest elections and that’s something that my staff and I are really working hard to continue. We pay attention to Iowa election laws and adhere to those so people don’t have to be concerned whether their vote will count or not.
“We have several different steps that we take to secure our voting systems against cyber threats and ballot tampering in order to protect the right of citizens to vote.”
Widmer admitted that he found the accusation of the possibility that the election might be rigged a little insulting and pointed out that for the rigging of an election to take place “you’d have to have what I would call ‘systematic fraud,’ and that would involve literally thousands of local and state election officials working collaboratively to rig an election.”
Widmer encouraged everyone to exercise their rights to vote, even if discouraged by their options at the top of the ticket, so they could make their opinion heard on the other items on the ballot.