Hawkins wins A-W District 5 seat

Posted November 21, 2019 at 11:01 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

After the election polls closed Nov. 5, it took another week to declare a winner for the Akron-Westfield District 5 seat, which was decided by write-in votes.

When the polls closed, there were still 40 absentee ballots that had not been turned in, according to Plymouth County Auditor/Commissioner of Elections Stacey Feldman.

With write-in candidate Kaylene Hawkins having 48 votes and Jerod Welch 32 votes, the race was too close to call when the polls closed. Therefore, it would have to be decided by the remaining absentee ballots voters had gotten and returned via the U.S. postal service. Any of the absentee ballots postmarked Nov. 4 or earlier would count toward the final voting tally.

Any voters who had been allowed to cast “provisional” ballots would also be considered.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Absentee Special Precinct Board, consisting of DuRetta Kelly, Janice Renken and Barb Shilling, convened at the Plymouth County Courthouse to review the absentee ballots received in the mail.

Of the 17 absentee ballots received, six were rejected because their postmarks were Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 — past the absentee ballot voting deadline, said Deputy Commissioner of Elections Cheri Nitzschke, explaining these six voters will receive letters explaining the rejection.

One provisional ballot was also rejected as the voter had moved but didn’t provide proof of residency (i.e., mail with new address) or identification (i.e., drivers license) to election officials.

One “Election Day Registration” ballot was allowed. The poll workers had used the old “paper” voting procedures in accepting this voter’s ballot instead of the new computerized procedures.

There were nine absentee ballots with the Nov. 4 postmark, and these were allowed.

The Absentee Special Election Board processed the 10 allowable ballots through the computerized voting machinery — just like ballots cast at the polling sites.

There were no ballots for the Akron and Westfield city elections, and only one of the 10 ballots had the Akron-Westfield School District ballot.

On this one ballot, the voter had voted for Deb Jordt, Nick Mathistad and Cory Tucker but did not “write-in” a name for the District 5 seat.

The final tallies for the Akron-Westfield School Board seats are:

• At-Large Position: Incumbent Nick Mathistad, 276 votes, or 97.18 percent. There were also eight write-in votes (see last week’s edition). Of note, there were 42 “under-voted” ballots cast for this position, meaning only 284 voters cast a vote in box — 42 voters didn’t cast an “At-Large” vote.

• District 4: Incumbent Cory Tucker received 268 votes, 96.75 percent; and there were also nine write-in votes cast. However, there were 49 voters who “under-voted” — didn’t cast a vote for the District 4 position.

• District 6: Incumbent Deb Jordt received 266 votes, 96.38 percent; and there were also 10 write-in votes cast. There were 50 voters who “under-voted” — didn’t cast a vote for the District 6 seat.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the Plymouth County Supervisors canvassed the election, finalizing the voting numbers — except for the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Remsen Union, Kingsley-Pierson and West Sioux school districts, which cross county lines. With the new election regulations, all voters cast their ballots in one precinct — wherever they used to do so in the General Elections.

From now on, they won’t have different polling sites for city and school board elections. In combining the city and school board elections, state officials chose to use only General Election polling sites. Now, Akron-Westfield voters cast their ballots in Brunsville, Akron and Westfield.

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