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Changes Planned For School Board Elections

LINN COUNTY -- Election officials have announced three new services that will take place at the School Board Election on September 10, 2013.

Vote Centers
In the Cedar Rapids Community School District, voting will take place at five Vote Center locations as opposed to individual precinct polling places that have been used in the past. These locations will be at the four Cedar Rapids Community School District high schools and the new Education, Leadership & Support (ELS) Center. Electronic poll books will be used at these five locations to process voters.

A Vote Center differs from a normal precinct polling place in that a voter from the school district may choose to vote at any center in their district instead of having to vote at an assigned polling place. The goal is to provide more options for the voter while running a more cost-effective election.

Voter turnout at school board elections has historically been extremely low. During the last school board elections in 2011, the overall turnout was just 5%. Eighty-three voters was the average precinct participation at the 50 polling places and one precinct had only seven voters during the entire 14-hour day. By allowing voters from the school district to choose the location most convenient to them, Linn County Elections hopes more people will participate in the election. Reducing the number of voting sites from 50 precinct polling places to five Vote Centers will reduce labor costs for Precinct Election Officials and rental fees for polling places.

As with all elections, absentee voting will continue to be available before Election Day. Voters may vote absentee in-person at the Auditors Office or vote by mail from the convenience of their home. The Elections Office anticipates ballots to be available for absentee voting on August 8.

Polling places for the other Linn County school districts have been used as Vote Centers for the past two regular school board elections and will continue to be open as Vote Centers this year. The locations and addresses for these Vote Centers are listed below. All Vote Centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

2-1-1 Phone Support
Linn County Election Services is now working with the regional 2-1-1 call centers in Cedar Rapids to provide additional phone support to the public. The 2-1-1 call center program is managed by the United Way of East Central Iowa and provides 24/7 call center services. Election Services will provide the 2-1-1 call centers with training and materials on election and voter registration topics. Their professional staff will then be able to assist the public with their election-related questions. This service will expand the publics access to live assistance from 8 a.m. 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to access that is available every day, 24 hours a day. Plans are underway to initiate this service during the regular school board elections on September 10.

Security Officers
Local law enforcement officers will provide additional security at each of the Voter Centers located in a school. One officer will be present during voting hours at each of the following locations:

Cedar Rapids Community School District (Security by Cedar Rapids Police Department)
Kennedy High School; 4545 Wenig Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
Washington High School; 2205 Forest Dr SE, Cedar Rapids
Metro High School; 1212 7th St SE, Cedar Rapids
Jefferson High School; 1243 20th St SW, Cedar Rapids

College Community School District (Security by Cedar Rapids Police Department)
Prairie High School; 401 76th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids

Marion Community School District (Security by Marion Police Department)
Marion School Admin. Bldg; 777 S 15th St
North-Linn Community School District (Security by Linn County Sheriffs Office)
North Linn High School 3033 Lynx Dr, Troy Mills

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