The state of Iowa is distributing funds for voting equipment, but local officials are still faced with challenging options as they try to comply with the Help America Vote Act. Guthrie County’s 85-hundred registered voters cast their ballots at 17 polling locations. But state funding would only cover a little more than half of the county’s expenses for putting a new, approved voting machine in each precinct. As a result, County Auditor John Rutledge says local leaders are considering precinct consolidation, as are other counties around the state. “Everybody sees the financial benefit from consolidating, but there’s a lot of emotional ties to the precincts people have always voted at, and each county is trying to address that in a manner that is both responsible, but yet conscious of the fact that it’s going to make it harder on voters.” Guthrie County’s plan would have many voters traveling farther to get to one of nine polling stations. Rutledge says consolidating would bring the upgrades within budget in Guthrie County. He says “The total expense is about 176-thousand dollars and the county’s end of it would be over 82-thousand if we bought a machine for every existing precinct. If we’re able to consolidate precincts, I think we could do it in a manner so state funding would cover most of our expenses.” Still, Rutledge says county governments are caught in a difficult position.He says “We know that it’s going to create some controversy, because it’s going to increase the travel time for a lot of people. What we’re trying to stress is that this is not our decision, it’s just something we’re forced to comply to.”