Dear Editor:

My name is Ben Steines. I am elected by the residents of Winneshiek County to serve as the county auditor. One of my duties is to be the commissioner of elections here in Winneshiek County.

I have and always will exercise this responsibility with honesty, integrity and in an efficient manner. I write this letter not in an effort to demean any candidate or party; but to inform the residents of the county, who are my constituents, as to a couple of programs that I perceive as inefficient use of county property tax dollars. Both of these programs have their place, and I strongly encourage the use of them where appropriate.

My complaint is that whether by ignorance or disregard; national campaigns, political parties and other advocacy groups use these programs without considering the expense that is incurred by the local taxpayers.

1. Absentee ballots by mail: I would like to reiterate that this process is definitely beneficial to some of the people who use it. Whether it is for a person who is traveling out of state between now and the elections, a person who has a mobility issue that limits their ability to get to the courthouse or their polling place, a service member who is serving overseas or any other such circumstance; this is a very appropriate procedure to cast their ballot.

My staff and I are happy and willing to mail any voter a ballot, if that is the way they wish to receive it. Our office will have absentee ballots available starting Sept. 27 through Nov. 5 during normal business hours and also the two Saturdays immediately before the election.

If a voter would stop and vote in our office or go to the polls on election day, that would save the county about $3 per ballot due to postage and envelope costs. It has become quite common for political groups to encourage voters to vote by mail. I would encourage voters to consider this additional expense before signing the request form.

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