116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — When Linn County Board of Supervisor candidate Mark Banowetz walked into his polling place Election Day, he didn’t see his District 1 race on the ballot.
“I was excited to vote for myself and at least guarantee one vote for me, but the race wasn’t even on there,” Banowetz told The Gazette.
Republican business owner Banowetz and Democratic state Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt are seeking the seat that will be left by departing Supervisor Stacey Walker.
“This is a mistake that shouldn’t have happened,” Running-Marquardt said. “It’s unfair to my opponent and me and those who didn't get a chance to vote today when they thought they would be able to.
“I look forward to having the ability for folks in the precinct to have their voices heard and their votes counted as well.”
The open seat on the three-member Linn County Board of Supervisors represents southern Linn County, including western Cedar Rapids, Ely and Fairfax.
The race did not appear on the ballot for Putnam Township — around Ely — but did appear in other precincts in the district.
Secretary of State Paul Pate said his office was monitoring the situation.
“Early this afternoon, my office learned that the Linn County Auditor failed to place the Board of Supervisors race on the ballots for Putnam Township,” Pate said in a statement. “This is a very serious oversight that has taken away the ability of voters to make their voice heard on who their next county supervisor will be.”
Pate said his office has been in touch with the Linn County Attorney’s office as well as the Iowa Attorney General and representatives for both parties.
“No other races on the ballot were impacted and Putnam Township voters should continue to turnout to vote through 8 p.m. tonight,” Pate said.
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller — who is running against Pate for state Secretary of State — confirmed the “impact of this is limited to the Linn County Supervisor District 1 race only. All other races remain unaffected.”
Miller said during a Tuesday evening news conference that as of 4:15 p.m., 288 cast ballots had been affected. His office found out of the error from Banowetz around noon on Tuesday.
Miller added that ballots before an election are checked by multiple people, including his office as well as the different political parties.
“They read it over as an additional safeguard. It’s not like it only went through one person,” Miller said.
“But this isn’t an excuse. It’s a failure of my office. It’s ultimately my fault, period. I apologize to the candidates and to the voters. This should not have occurred.”
Miller said that it depends on what happens with the election tonight.
“It really is depending on what the candidates do. If there’s a recount or contested election, that’s at the candidate’s prerogative” if there would be a special election called, Miller said.
“Depending on turnout and results, that might be a moot point. But candidates have the right to exercise their options.”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that, “Joel Miller’s incompetence is astounding. The fact that he can’t perform the duties of his current job, including ensuring every candidate and every office is on the ballot for Linn County voters, is frightening.
“Not only should this instantly disqualify him from the Secretary of State’s race, he needs to address his failings to the voters immediately.”
Comments: (319) 398-8255; firstname.lastname@example.org