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Don?t throw out perfectly good system

Opinion Karen Fitzsimmons Scott County Auditor    10 April 2005
Let me begin by stating that I commend the federal government and the State of Iowa for their efforts to upgrade the process of voting nationwide and here in Iowa. Theirs has not been an easy task. The passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) will have a positive impact in countless communities nationwide, particularly those which have not stayed ahead of the curve, either because they felt no need to, or because they could not afford to.

That has definitely not been the case in Scott County and the hurried implementation of HAVA presents some important and costly issues which need to be addressed before I am comfortable in bringing the best possible scenario to the citizens of Scott County.

I?ll try to generalize. For 15 years my staff and I tested and observed every new voting machine which came on the market before making a decision as to which machines would best suit Scott County. While our diligence was lengthy and often frustrating I feel that the system we chose is superb, and I can say with confidence that it has been virtually flawless for the past seven years.

The rules of HAVA dictate that we abandon our current voting machines and purchase an entirely new, unknown system, at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars, tax dollars. In Scott County this seems a colossal waste of money and effort.

In addition, HAVA is requiring that absolute control of voter registration records be wrestled from local control and put in the hands of the State of Iowa on a statewide system managed out of an office in Des Moines. Scott County?s voter registration is second to none and I would be very hesitant to give it up. It?s a system which has served the people of this county very well and I see no need to change it. Using an old phrase, why fix something which isn?t broken?

I have many, many questions about how the implementation of HAVA will affect us here in Scott County. As the Commissioner of Elections it is my job to do what is best for the citizens and I will do everything in my power to do so. And if that means letting state and federal officials know that some of their well-intentioned legislation will, in fact, be detrimental to the citizens of Scott County, then so be it.

Karen Fitzsimmons is Scott County Auditor. Contact her at (563) 326-8631.

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