It's been several days since the polls closed for the Fort Madison School District’s $30 million bond referendum for a new school and new athletic fields, and votes are still being coming in. As it turns out, the late arrivals are making the already close results even closer.
The unofficial election night tally was 1,747 votes in support of the bond issue and 1,202 votes against.
While on paper it would appear the measure was approved by a wide margin, Iowa code requires a super-majority (at least 60%) approval for bond issues. The election night percentage was 59.24%.
Given the 1,202 no votes, the bond issue would need 1,803 yes votes to reach exactly 60%, or 56 more votes than were received prior to the polls closing Tuesday night.
Lee County Elections Coordinator Nikki Sugars said Thursday afternoon that the total number of yes votes has since increased by ten to 1,757, or just 46 votes away.
Sugars said the Lee County Auditor’s Office had received eight absentee ballots by mail. She said staff does not open these ballots, instead leaving them for a group of election workers who deal solely with absentee and provisional ballots.
Sugars said the board opened the ballots and determined all eight were in support of the bond issue. That was on top of two provisional ballots that were determined to be legally cast, adding two more yes votes to the tally.
Sugars said it is unusual to receive that many votes after Election Day, adding that as unusual as it is, there could still be more arriving.
“There are approximately 60 ballots out for Fort Madison yet,” said Sugars. “If they come in and they have a post of April 2 or earlier and we receive them by noon on Monday, April 9, they will be included in the canvas.”
The Lee County Board is expected to canvas the election Tuesday morning. That is when board members read each vote total from each polling site to make sure the numbers are correct.
The results would be official after that.
Sugars said a recount can be requested within three days of the canvas. She said the auditor’s office has been contacted about the possibility of that in the Fort Madison School bond issue.
Sugars said a petition with 30 signatures would be required and the recount could be done by hand or by machine.