Weather leads to low voter turnout in school elections - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Weather leads to low voter turnout in school elections

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Tuesday, voters in Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, and Waterloo headed to the polls for special school elections.  But as you might imagine, few people braved the weather to vote. 

At mid-morning Tuesday, the voting booths at Cedar Valley Community Church in Waterloo were empty.  But the polling place had seen a total of around three dozen voters by noon.  And that's more than many locations, which struggled to make it into the double digits.

"The numbers are small.  Obviously weather affects just about everything," said Kyle Jensson, Black Hawk County elections manager.

Even though bad weather often leads to fewer cast ballots, low voter turn out is common in school elections.  In 2005, a Waterloo school election brought out 497 people, a mere one percent, of all registered voters.  In 2006, only 537 people voted.

"Voter turnout a lot of time is based on if they're happy with what's going on at that governing body's level," said Jensson.

In Waterloo, Tuesday's ballot measure was a formality to allow the district to access funds from a previously approved tax measure.  Still, the district says it's important to have ample support from its patrons at the polls to know they're on board with plans to continue building new schools.

"New and modern school facilities can make a huge difference for our young people in terms of the climate in the building, in terms of lighting, in terms of the technologies.  So being able to finish what we started a few years ago could make a significant difference for the children," said Dr. Gary Norris, superintendent of Waterloo Community Schools.

Even though the weather may lead to record low voter turn out, there is no state law that requires a minimum number of voters to cast their ballots during an election.  A simple majority is all that's needed for an issue to fail or to be approved.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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