Guthrie County officials continue trying to hammer out a plan to consolidate voting precincts as they deal with problems faced by many Iowa counties in updating their voting equipment. Township Trustees in Guthrie County would like to keep their traditional polling places. But they also know state funds will only cover half of the cost for putting new Help America Vote Act-mandated equipment in each precinct. Ron Mortensen is a Township Trustee and a former County Supervisor and says local officials are in a difficult position as changes are mandated from federal to state to county, now to township. Mortensen is especially disappointed about losing his precinct polling station. Local volunteers had renovated a country school house to use for voting. Now the future of the building is in doubt; without a public use it may be sold. He says, “We thought we had a very nice, very well built, well maintained building where we could keep our polling place. We did everything and more than we were expected to do to keep the polling place there and now it slips away.” Mortensen believes the Help America Vote Act problems rural leaders have to deal with are symptomatic of a bigger issue. He says, “These things happen, they’re going to happen, they’re inevitable, but everything is being aimed at the urban instead of rural environment.” Guthrie County will go from 18 to 8 precincts in order to keep equipment expenses below what has been granted by the state of Iowa.
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