Auditors: Paper Ballots For Iowa Caucus Aren’t An Easy Fix

Guest piece from Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz, Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert.

The right to vote is the central tenet of our democracy, and the integrity of our voting system is essential to ensuring no voter is disenfranchised while fulfilling their civic duties.

We take our role in upholding that process seriously, and among the three of us, we have more than three decades of experience administering elections and upholding the will of Iowans.

Like many Iowans, we’ve watched with interest regarding options for expanding accessibility for the caucuses. And we have full trust and faith that the Iowa Democratic Party’s virtual caucus plan would have expanded caucus accessibility in a secure and reasonable way. Following the DNC’s decision against the virtual caucus, as the party looks for alternatives to fulfill their goal of expanding accessibility in the brief time available, we urge them to use caution regarding the use of absentee ballots.

Simply put, developing and securing an absentee paper ballot process is not a task for a state party — especially not in a matter of weeks.

We have full confidence in auditors’ ability to run a ballot program, that’s what we do best. We each have multiple full-time staff dedicated to running our absentee ballot process, along with checks and balances not available to the political parties. We personally have been overseeing ballot voting for more than 30 years, and in each of our offices have done it for decades.

Without that experience and the resources that county auditor offices have, a state party that endeavors to run a ballot process could end up with a system that creates even bigger pitfalls and challenges for voters.

Iowa Democrats’ nominating process has always been focused on building relationships in our communities, and at the end of the day, having a conversation about who Iowa Democrats think is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and lead our country forward.

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We’ve seen recent examples of the challenges state parties encounter when they attempt to administer the technical process of an absentee ballot program. No matter what the IDP is considering, we know that they will prioritize the integrity of the process to make sure that Iowa Democrats have confidence in their caucus experience.

In order to securely uphold the integrity of the systems that already exist — with only four-and-a-half months left until the caucuses, and conceivable only weeks before a process would need to be implemented — we do not recommend Iowa Democrats consider the use of paper ballots in the 2020 caucuses.

We encourage party leaders to come up with a participation process for Iowans who cannot attend their precinct caucus that celebrates the caucuses for what they are — meetings of neighbors talking to neighbors about their shared values and their vision for our state and country.


by Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz, Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert
Posted 9/19/19

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