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Jasper County election officials find discrepancy in absentee ballot count

The county auditor was granted a recount to go over the absentee ballots.
Credit: AP
Chris Helps, of Earlham, Iowa, fills out his ballot during early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Adel, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEWTON, Iowa — Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott wants to get the vote count right, even if the discrepancy is a handful of votes.

That's why he asked for an administrative recount of the absentee ballots in Jasper County after members of the absentee ballot board noticed they were eight ballots short of the number they were supposed to see.

The discrepancy was reported on the night of the election to Parrott. When he didn't know what caused the issue, he decided to run the absentee ballots through the counting machines again. 

"That's when the machine malfunctioned, starting jamming up ballots when we would put them in," said Parrott. "We had a technician for the company on site, but he couldn't fix it. So the next day, someone from the company came in from Chicago and we got it fixed."

On Thursday morning, the state board of supervisors granted Parrott's request for an administrative recount of the absentee ballots. Starting on Thursday, county election officials will start re-running the ballots through the now-fixed machine to double-check the numbers and find out the discrepancy in data.

"I think this situation is a good example of the checks and balances in the election process," said Parrott. "We have had machines malfunction in the past, and we got it fixed and are moving forward."

Not every county auditor uses the same county machines to go through the ballots. But every machine must be certified by the state.

Parrott sent up results from election night to the Secretary of State, and he does not expect the recount of the absentee ballots to change those numbers.

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