A judge has ruled the number of polling places in Woodbury County for the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 2nd, and a special election Tuesday, July 7th must be increased from two to a minimum of five.
The judge also ordered Woodbury County Auditor Patrick Gill to establish a polling place in each of the five state representative districts in Woodbury County.
Gill says that’s a workable compromise.
“Our focus has been, as it has been from the beginning, will still be to protect the voters and our precinct election officials,” Gill says.
At least five voting booths will be at each location. Iowa’s secretary of state is encouraging Iowans to vote by mail rather than in-person, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Gill says he decided to limit polling locations after his office staff talked with long-time poll workers in the county.
“They’re all ‘Iowa Nice’ and they would like to work on Election Day, but they do have genuine concerns, as we do,” Gill says.
The judge’s ruling states that if the risk of exposure to COVID 19 subsides, Gill may increase polling locations and voter access throughout Woodbury County for the primary in June and the special election in July.
Former State Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City filed the court petition asking a judge to order that all precincts polling sites be opened for upcoming elections in Woodbury County. Bertrand’s attorney argued that with just two voting centers, voters would have to wait in long lines and be at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.
He also argued a large number of Republican and non-party male voters would be harmed by not being able to vote in person.
Woodbury County has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, with 742 confirmed through testing through Thursday morning. A “Test Iowa” drive-through testing site will open in the county Monday.
(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)