New Vote Centers to Open on School Board Election Day in Cedar Rapids

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Linn County Auditor's Office is getting ready to roll out a new strategy for School Board Elections on Tuesday.

In just two days, it'll be time to make decisions that could change the future of the school district you live in. Tuesday, Sept. 10 is School Board Election Day. In the past, this election is one that has been known for its low turnout. In Linn County, for example, turnout was only about 5 percent at the last school board election in 2011. At the school election before that in 2009, turnout was just more than 2 percent.

Deputy Commissioner of Elections Tim Box said a new plan will save the county about $10,000 dollars in labor costs.

"We have a lot of changes this go-around for the Cedar Rapids Community School District," Box said. "We went from the 50 polling places that we would typically have, down to five vote centers."

People can choose to vote at any one of the five centers throughout the day on Tuesday. The sites include Metro, Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington high schools. People can also go to the new administrative building on Edgewood Road, called the Educational Leadership and Support Center. Election officials believe this plan will be more convenient.

"We would love to have about 2,000 people show up at each vote center, but if we get 1,500 or 1,000 that would be a good turnout," Box said.

Some people aren't so sure it will work.

"It sounds like it would be simple," said Voter Ed Hatcher. "It's just, only five places to go. So, you don't have to worry about where you are going to go and stuff, but if you already know where you normally go to, and they don't change that, that often – then, if it's not broke, why fix it?"

"If you are used to going to one place and they have you go somewhere else, then you are just kind of like, 'Where do I go now?'" said Voter Mary Van Voltenburg.

Box said he thinks the vote centers will help reduce confusion.

"Since the school board boundaries cross different boundary lines, many people do not have the same school board polling place as they did for the general or their city," Box said. "So, that confusion has already been there. So we are trying to help that situation by letting them know: 'okay go to the high schools'."

The auditor's office said polling sites that are no longer in use for this Tuesday's School Board Election will have a notice pointing people to the five vote centers. These vote centers are only for those who live within the Cedar Rapids School District voting boundaries.
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