Pat Gill, Woodbury County Auditor

Amid a charged election cycle, Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill, shown in a 2012 file photo, said Friday he has checked to make sure police can quickly arrive at polling places to handle any people who might disrupt the voting process.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | Amid a charged election cycle, Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill has checked to make sure police can quickly arrive at polling places to handle any people who might disrupt the voting process.

Gill, the county's top election official for 20 years, said he's never before seen the need to have law enforcement on call, but the 2016 election has been different.

"You hear a constant pounding of rigged elections and you get nervous," Gill said at a news conference Friday at the county courthouse.

There have been reports of possible voting malfeasance in the Nov. 8 election. Additionally, some people have concerns there could be disruptions, given the highly-charged comments made by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as he seeks to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump in recent days has shared fears that the election could be rigged so that Clinton defeats him. At a Thursday campaign rally and on Twitter, Trump said he was concerned by reports of voting irregularities, or "vote-flipping" from Republican to Democratic counters, in Texas. A poll by Politico showed that 41 percent of people believe that voter fraud could turn the election away from Trump.

Gill noted the Texas incidents involved touch-screen voting, while Iowa ballots are all paper.

Gill has spoken with both the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office and Sioux City Police Department, so officers know what activities can be taken by people at polling spots and what isn't allowed. Gill said officers will be able to speedily reach the 44 polling places in the county, if election workers "feel nervous" and make a call.

In spite of taking those proactive steps, Gill said he anticipates no disruptions will occur.

"We don't anticipate any problems of that nature," he said.

Gill also used the press conference to lengthily air voting safeguards that are in place in Iowa. He said there are a series of steps that hired county workers must use to process absentee and in-person ballots, and added that they do well in carrying that out.

Therefore, Gill said people should not worry about voter fraud.

"I want to ensure people of the integrity of elections in Woodbury County and in Iowa," he said.

Gill was first elected as county auditor in 1996. He is seeking a sixth term, and is opposed on the ballot by Republican Joanne Craig.

In an Oct. 17 candidate forum, Craig and Gill spoke extensively on whether voter fraud in the 2016 election was a top concern. Craig said she has some trepidation on how the election may play out.

"I am somewhat concerned ... The governor (Terry Branstad) has stated there is potential fraud in Iowa," Craig said at the forum.


Gill also gave an update on early voting, which has been underway in Iowa since Sept. 29. County voters have requested nearly 15,000 early ballots,  about 1,000 less than the pace to the same point of the 2012 presidential election.

He said early voting has been more embraced in Sioux City and less so in rural areas of the county. Gill said people in small towns prefer to keep their tradition of voting in person.

"Election day to them is really kind of a social event," Gill said.

Gill said he expects a typical voter turnout for a presidential election year, at about 45,000 voters.


County and education reporter

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