The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a ruling in an eastern Iowa disputed ballot case that’s reminiscent of the 2000 election count in Florida. Voters in the Central City School District went to the polls in July of 2004 to vote on a four-point-six million dollar bond issue for school improvements, and to authorize the schoolboard to levy a tax to pay for the bonds. The vote to issue the bonds passed, and on election night the tax levy squeaked by with 60.9% approval.
Opponents of the issue asked for a recount which turned up four disputed ballots. The voter on one of the ballots marked out the word "No," and on three other ballots, the voters filled in the letter "O" instead of the oval next to the word. The recount board said the voters on those three ballots intended to vote no and accepted them. That sent the measure to defeat with only 59.8% approval.
Supporters filed to have a special contest court review the ruling, and that court voted 2-1 to throw out the three ballots, giving the measure enough to pass. Opponents appealed to the district court, which upheld the contest court, finding the intent of the voters who cast the four disputed ballots could not be shown. And the district court said voters failed to properly mark the ballots within the voting target after proper instructions for filling out the ballot were given.
The Supreme Court agree with the district court, saying they recognize the possibility that the voters in this case intended to vote "No" on each ballot, particularly on the three ballots where the voters filled in the letter "o" in the word "No" and left the oval target immediately to the left of the word "No" blank. However the high court said state law does not permit such intent to prevail when the ballots were marked in an unauthorized manner.