Officials shred voter registration

BY KRISTEN BARON | JULY 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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After new legislation went into place on July 1, Johnson County officials shredded nearly 250 boxes of voter registrations.

The new law will allow all Iowa counties to shred physical copies of voter registrations after they are scanned and uploaded into an electronic database.

“We used to have to keep these documents forever and ever,” Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said. “When I [was hired], I asked right away, ‘Why are we keeping all this paper?’ ”

Among the first to be shredded was a small weathered box of registrations from the late-1960s. Johnson County officials managed to find many familiar names among the dated documents.

“We have so many documents to shred [Heartland Shredding Inc.] won’t be able to do it in one trip,” said Johnson County Supervisor John Etheredge.

This bill initially failed when it was proposed.

With the help of Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, and Rep. Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside, the bill gained the momentum to pass.

The bill was grouped with another proposal and was made a priority for the Board of Supervisors.

This allowed Etheredge to talk to as many legislators and groups as possible to gain their support.

The majority he talked approved of the bill, he said, while only two groups were neutral on the issue.

Only five Iowa House of Representative members voted against the bill, but they did not agree with an amendment that was separate from the paperless-registration proposal.

“This benefits the entire state of Iowa,” Etheredge said. “Any county, large or small, can scan voter-registration documents and shred paper copies.”

Many of the small counties in Iowa did not have a problem storing their voter registrations, making the bill a non-issue for them. However, with the influx of college students in Johnson County, storage was an expensive issue.

This new law will save Johnson County a minimum of $4,000 annually, and Etheredge expects that it will save the state thousands, particularly in storage and maintenance costs affiliated with retaining so many documents.

The law will also help alleviate time restraints, such as having to register at least 10 days before being allowed to vote, Etheredge said.

“It was a great piece of bipartisan legislation,” Stutsman said. “Everybody saw the benefit.”

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