By Ken Ross, Managing Editor
Cherokee County, like counties throughout the country, will need to have federally compliant voting in place by 2006 as a result of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
HAVA is a result of the problems that surfaced during the close 2000 federal election, particularly the problems in Florida which delayed the announcement of the results of the presidential vote.
Counties have received federal funds, administered through the Iowa secretary of state's office, for voting equipment replacement. Cherokee County received $97,000.
Bonnie Ebel, the Cherokee County auditor, explained that the amount each county received was based on a formula taking into account the number of registered voters in the last election and the number of voting precincts in the county.
Ebel said the $97,000 should about cover the cost of the equipment itself but required software might require some county expenditure.
One possible way to go is through all touchscreen computerized machines. Under federal requirements, there will be at least one touchscreen voting machine with headphones to enable blind voters to vote without assistance.
The law also allows the use of optical scan systems where the ballot is marked with a special marking device and is scanned and tallied at the preceinct level, rather than at the courthouse.
Vendors of voting machines from two companies will demonstrate their use to voters at the Cherokee County courthouse on April 19 and April 20 at times to be announced.
Ebel said it is possible that the election will be in place in time for the school board elections in September, more likely for the municipal elections in November and required by law by 2006.