Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Election Day

Warning to state/national followers: It's school board election day and my day job is in the election office. Today is an all local content day.

This is about the fourth or fifth time in my 18 years at the auditor's office that I've come off a three day weekend and gone straight into Election Day. It happens after Labor Day one out of seven school election days, but our last post-holiday election was the Janelle Rettig-Lori Cardella supervisor special, the day after MLK Day in 2010.

Our best ever day-after-holiday special was the Bob Dvorsky state senate special that followed President's Day 1994: 16 inches of snow on Election Day and the best argument ever for voting early.

My time to write today is limited (I pre-prepped this post during the three days off) but I may get a dinner break to do a turnout update. If you want to know what's up follow @jcauditor on Twitter, because I'm writing most of that anyway in my work capacity as Unofficial Press Secretary And Historian.  Depending on mood and fatigue I may do a numbers post once I get home late tonight - the polls close at 8 and if I'm home by 10:30 I'm happy. Look for the results after 8 here or cable channel 5.

Here's stuff you need to know.

Nobody wants the job. Not only are none of the four incumbents elected in 2011 running, Sally Hoelscher didn't even finish the term (and her replacement, 80s era elected board member Orv Townsend, made it clear at appointment time that he wasn't running). And Tuyet (Dorau) Baruah announced her resignation just before the filing deadline, to set up the race for the two year term.

Yet everybody wants the job.  There's a whopping 13 candidates running, almost as bad as the Republican presidential race.

Early voting is down, barely half of 2013, with just 749 through Friday vs. 1444 final in 2013. But I don't think ANY of that is less interest than 2013. Some of that is losing the day before the election, usually the biggest early voting day, to the holiday. I think most of it is people struggling with their fourth and fifth choices.

If you're comparing turnout, 2013 is the year to look at for two reasons. 1: In 2013 the ICCSD took a Great Leap Forward in turnout. District elections had long been dominated by the east side, but last cycle Coralville and North Liberty caught up in what looks less like a one-time thing and more like a permanent shift. 2: The school precinct lines changes between 2011 and 2013.

School precincts confuse everybody, and they confuse everybody EVERY election because people don't think in terms of school vs. all other elections, they think in terms of Big vs. Small. So most of my day will be spent on the phone telling people where to go vote. If you're on your smart phone, try the Go Vote Johnson County app and save me some work.

The decision to combine the precincts is up to the districts. I can see it both ways - on the one hand the confusion and less convenience, on the other hand the permanently low turnout and cost savings. Poll workers are the single biggest cost of any election, and school districts and cities are billed for the costs.

There's 10 school precincts in the ICCSD but a couple - Hills and the Art History building, which used to be the Lincoln School precinct - are disproportionately small. And the lines have nothing to do with attendance areas.

Though the lines are Officially set by the district, in practice the auditor's office does it. I'm going to be direct here. The lines were drawn under the former auditor and they were an afterthought. We spent about three hours on them, on the deadline day, in crisis mode as so much was done back then. I wasted half that time trying to create a viable school precinct in downtown, because "people downtown" (i.e. one friend of the former auditor) did not like going to Lincoln School to vote.

But all I accomplished was proving what I already knew, and what the school district knew when they decided to do combined precincts  - that all of downtown together casts about 20 school board votes. So with the clock ticking we punted and split campus up haphazardly between Mann, City High and Lincoln (now Art).

So there's some bad lines, and despite the former auditor's defeat the law says we're stuck with them through the 2021 election. In particular, people in the Oakcrest area are shipped over to Twain. And my address in Miller-Orchard goes to City High.

The turnout updates are at 9, 11, 3 and 6. Rule of thumb is that turnout tends to double between 9 and 11, between 11 and 3, and between 3 and close. The 6:00 update is new under the Weipert Administration and we haven't had time to figure out what it means yet, other than it's about as late as we can reasonably expect to check in and effectively respond.

As in 2013, there's a lot of overlap between geography and candidate support.

Strong turnout in Coralville, North Liberty and West High benefits the candidates backed by the North Corridor Parents. To my surprise they backed Save Hoover leader Chris Liebig in the two year race.

In the full term, North Corridor Parents backed six candidates for the four seats. Personally, I dislike multi-endorsements of more than the number of seats open, because it risks vote-splitting. But in any case, the candidates who get their stamp of approval are North Libertarians (is that a word?) Shawn Eyestone and Todd Fanning, Lori Roetlin of Coralville, and Iowa Citians Brian Richman, Phil Hemingway and Tom Yates.

The Save Hoover group is with Liebig, of course, and in the four year race they made just three picks: Hemingway, Yates and Brian Richman. But it'll be harder to figure out how well they're doing from the turnout. The City High school precinct was split last cycle between the Hoover faction, which wants the planned school closure reversed, and the City High faction, which wants room for the landlocked high school to grow and sees Hoover's ground as the only available space.

A couple other big endorsements are non-geographic and thus harder to spot in the turnout trends.

The Iowa City Education association is enthusiastic for retired teacher Yates, and is also backing LaTasha DeLoach, Jason Lewis, and Roetlin. They made an Anyone But Liebig multi-endorsement of Megan Schwalm and Paul Roesler in the two year race.

The Iowa City Federation of Labor backs Schwalm in the two year race and made only three picks in the full term: Hemingway, Yates and Lewis. There was some sentiment for a fourth nod for DeLoach, but her late-starting campaign missed the endorsement deadline.

Outgoing board member Jeff McGinness, usually seen as Superintendent Steve Murley's closest ally on the current board, is backing DeLoach, Fanning, Eyestone and Brianna Wills.

This leaves Lucas Van Orden as the odd man out in big endorsements, though a few of his signs have been spotted at realtor-type locations on North Dodge.

In the rest of the county, Solon looks like the hot spot, with four candidates seeking two seats. 80 voters showed up Friday night when the Votemobile was at the Solon football game. Paul Deaton has thoughts here. Rumors of write ins in Clear Creek Amana, where none of the races are contested, fizzled.

Lone Tree has the quirkiest election. They have two contests, one for a two year seat, just like Iowa City. But all three incumbents accidentally filed for the full term, and no one filed for the short term. Appointee incumbent Mike Waldschmidt drew the short straw, "dropped out," and is running as a write in for the short term.

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