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Polk County Auditor says Iowa Senate leader's voter registration is valid

jack whitver
John Pemble
/
IPR file
A county election official has rejected a challenge to Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver's voter registration.

The Polk County Auditor has decided Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver’s voter registration and residency in Grimes is valid.

The decision issued Monday follows a challenge from Grimes resident Ann Gale, who alleged Whitver was still living with his family in Ankeny for several weeks after he changed the address on his voter registration to a condominium in Grimes so he could run in a new district.

Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald wrote the social media profiles and water bills submitted as evidence by Gale and her attorney were “insufficient to overcome the presumption that Whitver’s declared residency is valid and his submitted evidence.”

Caleb Hunter, spokesperson for the Iowa Senate Republicans, said Fitzgerald was correct “to set partisanship aside and follow the law.” Fitzgerald is a Democrat, and Whitver is a Republican.

Hunter said Whitver and his wife signed a contract in the summer to purchase land near Polk City, within the boundaries of Whitver’s new Senate district. He said they plan to close on the lot by the end of the year.

“Sen. Whitver continues to maintain the residency requirements of Iowa law,” Hunter said.

Hunter also said continuing to pursue the challenge could set a “dangerous precedent” and have a chilling effect on voter participation.

In a statement, Gale said she’s disappointed in the decision, but she didn’t say if she plans to appeal it.

“I still believe that the citizens in Iowa Senate District 23 are best served by representatives who are invested in our communities and live in our district,” Gale said.

In addition to the water bills showing a lack of water usage in August and lower-than-average use in September at Whitver’s Grimes condominium, Gale’s attorneys also submitted Whitver’s voting record. It showed he voted in all elections dating back to 2004, except for this year’s elections.

Whitver’s attorney Charlie Smithson submitted utility bills that showed increasing usage in September, October and November in the Grimes condo. He also submitted dozens of screenshots that appear to show Whitver’s location at the condo at various times of the day and night in the fall.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter