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Floyd County advance voting well ahead of previous years

By Bob Steenson,

There are no contested races for Floyd County offices in the current election, but interest in state and national races has driven early voting to a point well ahead of previous years.

As of Thursday afternoon, 4,309 absentee ballots had been sent out by the Floyd County Auditor’s Office, and 4,015 had been received, according to Amanda Theilen, election clerk.

Four years ago, in the last presidential election, there were a total of 3,534 absentee ballots cast.

In-person absentee voting is still possible today (Friday), Saturday and Monday at the Floyd County Courthouse, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Theilen reminded persons voting in person, either early or on election day, to bring a photo ID with them.

Mailed absentee ballots are eligible to be counted as long as they are received in the auditor’s office by election day, or postmarked by Monday, Nov. 2, and received in the auditor’s office by noon on Monday, Nov. 9.

Results are unofficial until the election is canvassed by the county Board of Supervisors, which this year will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Because of the surge in early voting this year, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate received permission from the Iowa Legislative Council to allow county auditors to begin opening absentee ballot envelopes beginning Saturday, but leaving the ballots inside the secrecy envelope.

Counting of absentee ballots can begin the day before the election, on Monday.

But Theilen said Floyd County is confident it can do all the opening and counting on election day as usual.

With grant money the county received, a scanner was purchased that will scan ballots in stacks instead of them having to be fed individually as in past years, and the county also bought an electric mail opener.

“I know the other day (County Auditor Gloria Carr) tested 920 ballots in 45 minutes, so we don’t feel that we’ll have to bring them in any earlier,” Theilen said about the new scanner, although she added that the counting would start earlier in the day Tuesday than usual.

On the ballot at the county level are Supervisor Linda Tjaden, Sheriff Jeff Crooks and Auditor Gloria Carr, each seeking re-election to their current positions unopposed.

For the first time, voters this year will chose the members of the Floyd County Medical Center Board of Trustees, after voters approved changing the medical center’s charter last year to allow the board to collect property taxes to support it.

There are seven seats available on the board, and seven persons are seeking seats. Five of them — Ron James, Amanda McCarty, Mary Jo Lacour, Randy Heitz and Cheryl Erb — are current members of the board, having been appointed by the county supervisors for the board’s inaugural year.

Viva Boerschel, a long-time medical center employee who retired this year as the hospitals’s chief nursing officer, and Sharon Enabnit, an advanced registered nurse practitioner who works in Mason City, filed to fill two seats where the current trustees are not seeking re-election.

Once elected, half of the board will serve two-year terms and half will serve four-year terms, so that the entire board isn’t elected in a single election.