COUNCIL BLUFFS — Pottawattamie County Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake has overseen many elections, but something happened this year that caught her attention.
It also created anger among some voters.
Drake said a group she couldn't identify used a legal procedure called “caging.”
“We had people come to the counter very unhappy,” she said. “Some group in town sent out material by mail to certain houses, and if those occupants didn't return that material to the group, the group would then consider that house as vacant.”
That meant any absentee ballots returned to the Auditor's Office from those addresses would be contested, meaning the occupants would have to come to the office in person with proof of residency there, she said.
“That really angered people who lived in their homes many years,” Drake said. “The term is called 'caging' and apparently is legal in Iowa. That never happened here before, ever.”
The local Democratic and Republican Parties receive lists of those who requested absentee ballots and those who turned them in, she added.
A special precinct board met Thursday to review provisional ballots, a common occurrence, she said. A provisional ballot is allowed if the voter can't prove residency at the time of voting. The board also reviewed 80 contested absentee ballots, she added.
“I've never had this happen before,” Drake said.
Meanwhile, ballots can still arrive through Tuesday, as long as they were correctly postmarked, she said. Because of that, total voter turnout for the election could reach 70 percent. After Election Day, her turnout count was 66.5 percent.