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Grinnell College students' ballots challenged (IA)
Des Moines Register. November 4, 2008. By STACI HUPP

Republican Party leaders in Poweshiek County want election officials to toss the votes of 50 Grinnell College students who listed the general campus address on their absentee ballots instead of their own campus addresses.

The complaints, filed Monday, allege that the college mailing address, 1115 Eighth Ave., doesn’t match the students’ campus addresses. Each Grinnell College student is assigned a post office box.

The complaints carry the signatures of Harry Meek and Rick Jacoby, co-chairmen of the Poweshiek County Republican Party, election officials said.

The complaints are among dozens reported today throughout Iowa.

A hearing before a special precinct board has been set for Thursday.

Diana Dawley, the Poweshiek County auditor, said Grinnell College students have listed the general campus address in the past without setting off any red flags.

“We’ve used that procedure for years,” she said.

The complaints triggered debate and meetings at Grinnell, a private liberal arts college with about 1,500 students.

“Our students want to make sure that they get to vote,” said Kate Worster, a college spokeswoman. “The question is, what needs to happen and the county auditorw needs to answer that question.”

Worster added: “This is going to be an exceptional learning experience in a historic election for students.”

Dawley said the fate of the ballots will be decided at Thursday’s hearing.

She said the county’s Republican Party chairmen submitted copies of 664 absentee ballots. Fifty were singled out for a challenge, she said.

Elsewhere, Iowans reported voting hangups.

By 11 a.m., a CNN voter complaint hotline had tracked 61 reports in Iowa.

Nearly half the complaints had to do with missing absentee ballots and problems with voter registration or voting machines. Most came from Polk County.

Carmen Kauzlarich of Des Moines says she was turned away from her precinct at Southview Manor.

“I came in, and the list said I’ve already voted as an absentee voter,” said Kauzlarich, a grandmother.

Kauzlarich believes poll workers confused her with her sister, who voted absentee. The two live together and have the same last name. Kauzlarich left her phone number with a poll worker and hurried off to work.

Joe Cozart of Des Moines left his southside precinct frustrated when only half his ballot counted.

Cozart said he filled out both sides of a ballot, but a voting machine kicked it back out.

“It turns out they had handed me two ballots that were stuck together,” said Cozart, who voted at the Southside Nazarene Church.

His problems didn’t end there. Cozart was told he couldn’t use the backside of his second ballot.

The precinct chairwoman, who refused to provide her name, said ballots often stick together because they’re packed tightly. She said it’s usually not a problem because one-sided ballots are used for most elections.

“Fortunately, I put in the side for the president and that was counted,” Cozart said. “But I wanted to vote for the judges and the constitutional issue.”

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