Western Iowa’s Woodbury County is preparing for two elections in the next couple of months: One for a new jail and another for an open county government seat.
Woodbury County will hold a bond election for a $49 million new jail on March 3. The county will then pivot to an April 14 special election for a new supervisor to replace Jeremy Taylor, who resigned last week.
“Most of the time when we budget, we budget for one or two special elections because they do occur,” Woodbury County Elections Commissioner Pat Gill said. “It’s been a rare thing that we’re doing right now is that we have a countywide election on March 3 and then turn around and have to have another one six weeks later."
This means the county will clean, test and deploy voting machines twice within a six-week period, Gill said.
“That’s why we stretched it out as long as we did, in order to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that we’re trying to eliminate any possible mistakes,” Gill said.
The county will have to reprogram its voting machines, print ballots and test those ballots before each election, Gill said. That testing is required by law. The county will also need to train precinct election officials before each election.
Woodbury County set the date for a bond election for a new jail in mid-January. The second election for a new county supervisor was decided Monday, just days after Taylor announced he was resigning from his seat after his voter registration was canceled.
Gill said this special election is rare – the first special election for a Woodbury County supervisor in the 24 years he has been with the county.
The entire county will get to vote, but only people who live in the district for the seat Taylor vacated in the northwestern part of the county can run, Gill said.
“At the time that the canvass is over and the board certifies the winner, that voter has to be someone who is a registered voter of District 2,” Gill said.
Gill determined that Taylor’s residence tied to his voter registration belongs to a second home that Taylor and his wife bought in May 2019, and not his first home that is in District 2, the supervisor district he was elected to serve. Gill canceled Taylor’s voter registration on Jan. 24.
County supervisors prioritized building a new jail over renovating the current one in downtown Sioux City because the jail is at or near capacity and infrastructure like the jail’s heating, ventilation and air cooling systems have exceeded their lifespans. But whether or not to build a new jail will be up to voters on March 3.