The Iowa Attorney General and Secretary of State are reversing their position on counting the ballots of Iowans who show up at the wrong precinct. Attorney General Tom Miller had issued an opinion that voters who were in the wrong precinct should be given a provisional ballot under the new federal voting law — contrary to state law that says such votes should not count. Thursday, Miller changed that position based on three federal cases that upheld state laws in the face of the federal law. Miller says there is no time to pursue the Iowa issue in court to get a district court decision, an Iowa court decision and a Supreme Court decision before Tuesday’s election. Miller says with the lack of time — they’ll revert to Iowa’s law and tell Iowa’s county auditors to separate and not count the provisional ballots from people voting outside their precicnt. Miller says if there is an election contest, or the case is litigated in any way, he and the Secretary of State will argue that the votes be counted because they believe that to be the correct position. But, Miller says given the three court decisions, they believe segregating the provisional ballots is the right way to go. Secretary of State Chet Culver, who is also the state Commisioner of Elections, says this solves the problem before the election. Culver says he likes the decision because they can move on and give county auditors instructions on how to prepare for the elections, and at the same time they preserve the ballots. Culver says the issue has been overblown. “I think it’s important to put this whole question into its proper context. In the second largest county in the state, Linn County, in 2000 we had two people show up in the wrong precinct.” He says those two people were given provisional ballots that were not counted. There were a total of 6,000 provisional ballots in the state in 2000. Culver says most counted after it was confirmed that the voters were registered and in the right precinct. He has this advice for Iowans: voters should check their voter registration card to find their precinct. You can call 1-888-SOS-VOTE and find out where you’re supposed to vote. Culver says you can also call your county auditor. Culver says the number of provisional ballots will be announced after the election. He says a panel will go through the provisional ballots that’ve been set aside on the Thursday after the election. He says anyone can then challenge a decision on whether their ballot counts.
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