Linn County moves forward with voter ID upgrades

Newstrack: $95,000 allocated for new polling place equipment

A sign last November at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids informs voters that the Iowa voter ID law starts to phase in this year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A sign last November at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids informs voters that the Iowa voter ID law starts to phase in this year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Last year, the GOP-led Legislature passed a voter ID law. It requires residents to present personal identification at the polls in order to vote.

Republicans say the changes are necessary to prevent voter fraud., Democrats and others argue the law suppresses votes and creates barriers for the poor, elderly, people with disabilities and minorities.

In Linn County, the Auditor’s Office last October requested $227,000 from the Board of Supervisors to buy 333 computers plus printers and other equipment needed to prevent a slowdown and long lines at polling places as poll workers adhere to the new voter ID requirements.


Linn County supervisors allocated about $95,000 this fiscal year for new polling place equipment.

The Auditor’s Office on Wednesday requested supervisors also approve an agreement with electronic poll book company Knowink.

The five-year agreement, which the five-member board approved unanimously, is for the installation, setup and support of electronic poll books that will be used for Election Day voter registration.

The Auditor’s Office plans to buy 140 iPads and label printers, 110 receipt printers and an additional 30 thermal printers. The equipment is estimated to cost about $54,000.

The equipment will be paired with existing office hardware.

The agreement includes the first year software license with Knowink. The second year will cost $35,000 for the software license, with the following three years costing $17,500 a year, according to county documents.


“We believe this is very good pricing for the taxpayers of Linn County,” Auditor Joel Miller said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “I don’t think there’s a better deal out there for us.”

According to Knowink’s website, the St. Louis-based company provides services to more than 450 election authorities in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

Becky Stonawski, deputy auditor for Linn County, said the office got some hands-on experience with Knowink’s product during a special election in Lisbon in February.

Some of the new technology will be deployed in April 3 special elections in Mount Vernon and Alburnett, she added.

All that is building to the products’ first big test — the June 5 primary election.

“One of our goals is that the voter ID law doesn’t inhibit people from moving through the polls or slow things down,” Stonawski said. “The voters and the workers both seemed to think the equipment was good.”

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