Springville Recount Shows No Change, But Election Contest Still On

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A recount of the November 5th mayor's race in the Linn County community of Springville produced the same result as the count election night.

Current Springville Mayor Richard Heeren lost to council member Roger Shebetka by five votes. The tally on election night was Shebetka 142 and Heeren 137. A recount board meeting at the Linn County Auditor's office recounted the votes by hand. The three member board determined the vote tallied by the machine was the right count.

But Heeren, who's been mayor of Springville for four years, said he was still proceeding with the next step—and that involves actually contesting the election results.

Heeren said he will make two claims to the so-called "contest court." The first is a claim that election workers at the single polling place in Springville opened the ballot boxes to adjust the ballots. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said previously that does happen on occasion to make sure the machines don't jam up. That is allowed as long as two precinct workers are present to open the machine.

Heeren's second claim is someone supporting Shebetka hung around the voting place and was telling people who hadn't voted to remember how to vote. Electioneering, as it's called, is not permitted within a certain distance of voting.

"I think I have a witness that can prove it. I wasn't there personally, but I got a phone call," Heeren said.

Shebetka called the claims "ridiculous" and has no idea what his opponent is talking about.

"I didn't hear of anybody or see anybody doing that. I just can't see anybody in this town thinking of doing that," Shebetka said.

Tim Box, Linn County deputy auditor, said recounts are somewhat common but contest courts are not. A contest court will actually function like a district court with members having the ability to weigh testimony and subpoena witnesses to testify about what took place on election day.

"They'll look at were people properly registered to vote, was electioneering going on and did precinct officials do the job properly. The contest court has the authority to look into that," Box said.

Box said he is not sure when the contest court will take place to hear claims of irregularities in the race for mayor in Springville. He said the elections office will have to do some research to brush up on the rules. But he does expect it to happen in two or three weeks.
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