Satellite voters in Traer set single-day county record

Voting station opened as part of North Tama’s school bond referendum

Tama County assistant auditor Michelle Schroeder, right, helps a voter last Wednesday afternoon at the Traer Memorial Building during the satellite vote which experienced robust turnout. "This is a really good turnout for a satellite vote," Schroeder told the Telegraph. "[Election Administrator] Karen [Rohrs] usually doesn't recommend a satellite vote due to cost but this has been worth it." PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

TRAER – Last week Wednesday, voters in the North Tama County Community School District set a Tama County record at the Traer Memorial Building for the most ballots processed during a satellite vote.

“They did have record turnout yesterday. They processed 182 satellite voters,” Karen Rohrs, Tama Co. Elections Administrator, told the Telegraph in an email on Thursday.

The satellite location – which was open again the next day, Thursday – was part of early, in-person absentee voting for the 2023 city/school general election which will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

The North Tama school board requested the two-day satellite option in an effort to get out the vote early as the district tries again to pass a $14.85 million bond referendum for facilities upgrades after a similar bond failed last March by just six votes.

If approved, the district will begin Phase I of its facilities master plan which includes a new east side addition (new high school) with new classrooms and collaboration spaces; upgrades to security at the entrances; locker room/weight room reconfiguration to provide required handicapped accessibility; paving the existing parking lot; and selective maintenance in other areas including much-needed HVAC and electrical work.

A sign hangs on a door at North Tama Elementary last week Wednesday advertising the satellite voting option at the downtown Memorial Building. This past March, the district held a special bond referendum which failed by just six votes. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Only those residing in the North Tama School District were able to vote at the satellite voting station last week, Rohrs said. One individual who open enrolls their children at North Tama but lives in the city of Dysart mistakenly attempted to vote but had to be turned away, Rohrs said, as their City of Dysart ballot was not available as part of the satellite.

Usually, a satellite vote is not recommended due to cost. This past winter on February 24, a similar satellite station was set up at Traer City Hall during the local fire department’s fish fry in an attempt to turn out the vote early as part of the school’s special election – barely 50 voters turned out.

For those in the North Tama school district who would like to vote early in-person but missed the opportunity last week, the option is available during regular business hours at the Tama County Auditor’s Office located inside the Tama County Administration Building in Toledo.

The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The final day to vote absentee in-person at the Auditor’s office is Monday, Nov. 6.

Heather Knebel, left, of rural Traer accepts an 'I Voted' sticker from Sue Nachazel after casting her ballot at the Traer Memorial Building last Wednesday during the satellite vote. Come November 2024, Knebel herself plans to be on the ballot as she runs for Tama County Supervisor. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER