Day of decisionCampaigns end and voting begins in Washington County
With many of the election sites reporting a steady stream of voters for today’s presidential election and a few rushes of people to the polls, election officials believe this could turn into one of the most well-attended elections in recent history.
At about 11 a.m. today, the polling place at the former Washington Public Library reported having taken ballots from over 180 people. The Washington County Auditor’s office reported that the Ainsworth Precinct polling place had over 100 people during the first hour of the election. At the former library, voter Buddy Brown didn’t indicate who he favored but stressed the importance of voting. He said that he votes in every election.
“It is something you should do,” he said. “It is our right. You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”
At Halcyon House, voter Lynn Horak cited the direction of the country, social and religious issues and the desire to get the best man in office as the top issues she examined in making the decision of who to choose to vote for.
County election results are expected to be available at about 10 p.m. tonight. The results will be posted on The Washington Evening Journal’s Web site as soon as they become available.
Election official Mary Jane Shaffer reported a steady group of voters at the polling place set in Halcyon House. When the polls opened one man was waiting to vote. There had been several instances where people have had to wait for an empty booth to vote. At 11 a.m. Shaffer reported there had been 227 voters.
“It is more brisk than normal,” election official Marti Young said. “It has been steady all morning. It makes our day go fast.”
When the polls opened at the former library this morning, first-time election official Susan Westermark said that the turnout has been good. At 11 a.m., 190 people had voted. She also said that between 10 and 11 a.m. about 58 people had voted.
“That’s one per minute,” she said. “We had 10 or 12 people waiting when we opened at 7 a.m.”
The voters coming into the polling places kept election officials busy this morning. In addition to Iowa’s being a battleground state for the presidential race, Washington County is also seeing a challenge at the city and county levels.
In the local supervisors races Republican Jack Seward Jr. and Democrat Kay Ciha are running for the District 1 seat. Republican Bob Yoder, Democrat Dawn McCoy and Independent candidates Randy Billups and Mary Zielinski are running in District 2. Republican Stan Stoops, Democrat Richard Gilmore and Independent Adam Mangold are running in District 4.
Two cities will have council elections. Washington will decide its next councilor from Ward 3. Those on the ballot are incumbent Bob Shellmyer and challenger Tom Bowler.
Kalona will also have a special election. Craig Spitzer is running uncontested for a spot on the council. Jenelle Bender is also running uncontested for the council.
On Monday, Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer reported that about one-third of the 14,591 registered voters in Washington County had already cast absentee ballots.
Second-grade teacher April Six, her class, and the other second-grade classes set up a mock election at Stewart Elementary to give students the opportunity to choose a candidate. While the results are unofficial, Six said that it is important to teach students about their civic right and privilege to vote.
“During the last couple of weeks they have been learning about the election and the voting process,” Six said. “During the last few weeks they have been learning basic facts about each candidate.”
Six said that the election is designed to be as close to the real thing as possible. She said that students had to register and today the students will be matched by their names. The second-graders are acting as election officials. The students are given a ballot with a choice between incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.
People entering Stewart today were greeted with signs and posters encouraging voting. Many of the students proudly wore an “I Voted” sticker.