Dear Editor,

 

On Feb. 1 the Centerville School District held an election on the PPEL fund renewing it for the second time for another 10 years. This vote was a major change from the vote held in September. This time the issue passed two to one — 657 yes and 339 no. That has caused some concern among the opponents of the issue because of the large number of absentee votes. These opponents assume that absentee voters are illegal, or crooked, or have some other problem that should prevent them from voting. This was not the case in this election. At first I got some feedback that suggested that someone had gone to the nursing homes and got 400 people to vote for the issue. In this election there were no votes from nursing home residents. If there had been the county auditor would have had to send two people to the nursing home to supervise each voter to see that the voting was done honestly. In this new century there are few votes at the nursing homes. There are stages of moving that people go through before they end up at the nursing home and by that time most of the residents are not interested in voting. In a general election usually fewer than 10 people vote from the three nursing homes. So you conspiracy oriented citizens need to realize that nursing homes are not the place to get many votes in today's world. 

Then comes Jody Gardner who suggests that votes came from high school students. Again there are only a few students who are 18 years old and still in high school. In this PPEL election there were two high school students who voted. I had three people look through the list of the people who requested absentee ballots — these three are people connected with the high school.  There were three other students who requested an absentee ballot but they never returned their ballot to the auditor's office. Of the two voting students, I know with absolute assurance that one of the students went to the courthouse with her mother and voted. When the mother was contacted about voting she realized that this would be the first election in which  her daughter could participate. I know nothing about what force was used to get students to vote, but you know what, it didn't seem to work. Two votes from CHS.

There was a committee that was working on the passage of the PPEL referendum. I was asked to join the group and I was convinced that encouraging people to vote absentee was the most efficient way to win the election. In fact I told a number of people to vote absentee because there might be a snow storm on Feb. 1.  To vote absentee a qualified voter has to request an absentee ballot. There is a form to fill out that includes their name, address, age and either their last four digits of their social security number or their driver's license number. These requests are turned into the auditor's office and the auditor mails the ballot to the home of the voter and they fill out the ballots, follow the directions and mail the ballot back to the auditor's office. No one but the auditor's office and voter have their ballot. There is no one walking the streets passing out ballots. But citizens can also go to the auditor's office and vote  while they are there filling out the same form as if the ballot had been mailed to them. Both those who go to the courthouse and those who vote at home are called absentee voters and they all live in a precinct in the school district. The auditor keeps a running list of all requests for an absentee ballot and what date it was mailed out and what date it is returned. Interested people can get a list of people who have requested an absentee ballot and each day one can see which ballots have been returned and which are still out. In this election 55 people never returned their ballots. They requested a ballot but never mailed it back. With the list of absentee voters a committee supporting or opposing the issue can contact people to remind them to return their ballot. 

This list of requests also tells in which precinct these voters reside. I have no idea how people have voted but I have made some educated guesses and when one takes the vote in each voting site and adds the absentee votes from each precinct you can see that the issue passed in all the precincts except Mystic.

Again an absentee ballot is a secret vote, even though some opponents don't seem to believe that. There are election workers for each poll site and you have seen those people when you go to the polls. The group you don't see is the absentee voting precinct. Four people are selected by the auditor to count those ballots. The ballots arrive at the courthouse in an envelope addressed to the auditor. The auditor checks to see that the signature on the envelope matches that signature on the request form. Then on election day the absentee workers open each envelope and throw the ballots which are in a security envelope into one container and the outside envelopes in another. Then later they open each ballot and count them. They do not know whose ballot they are counting. It is a secret even if you Doubting Thomas' don't want to believe it. 

What you saw in this election was democracy at work. This is what democracy looks like. Groups form for and against an issue. My group generated some interest in the election, provided accurate information through ads, fliers and conversation and corrected misinformation. It took a long time to get the first hundred absentee ballots and not quite as long to get the second hundred and then momentum took over and in a day or two there were 300 and on until the final day. People who voted got others to vote. This list of people who voted is available from the auditor and looking at the list you will see they all claim residence in the school district, they all have their senses and know what is going on, in fact, most of the voters are probably college graduates. No one duped them into voting. It was a fair election. Accept the results. Stop the lies, innuendoes and misinformation. I worked hard on this election because I didn't like the lies and misinformation and twisted facts that the opposition put forth in the first election. So I say thanks to the opposition for providing the motivation to get me working. You did a good job. 

 

Bob Thomas

Centerville

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