Iowa Senate approves joint school and city elections

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has approved a bill requiring city and school elections to be held on the same day in an effort to boost voter participation.

The bill passed the Senate 36-13 on Tuesday and now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad, The Des Moines Register  reported. Under the measure, school and city elections would be held after the first Monday in November during odd-number years.

The legislation hopes to increase voter participation while reducing taxpayers’ costs. However, some lawmakers are concerned about possible confusion among voters and poll workers because the district boundaries for city council posts and school board seats are often different.

“I am going to focus on rural Iowa, and I see a lot of problems,” said Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa.

Bowman said county auditors told him they’re not ready to combine city and school elections.

However, Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar, noted that the legislation wouldn’t combine the administration of city and school elections until July 1, 2019.
Implementation is expected to include the use of specialized Geographic Information Systems mapping work and modifications to statewide voter registration software and poll books, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

The estimated cost will be $50,000, state analysts said. They said the results from combining voting precincts won’t be determined until the Geographic Information Systems work is completed.

The Iowa Association of School Boards and the Iowa State Education Association oppose the bill, while the Iowa League of Cities is undecided. The Iowa State Association of Counties supports the measure.

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