With the possibility of a reduction to the membership of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, it never hurts to start thinking about "what ifs?" For the board to be reduced, a petition drive currently underway would have to obtain enough signatures of eligible electors to have the question placed on the November General Election ballot. At that time, the voters would decide the membership of the Board of Supervisors.
But, if the board is reduced to three members, a new re-districting would be required by law in order to ensure equal representation of the county's population among the supervisors.
But, the board of supervisors may elect to change the format of representation under which they serve the voters at any time. Iowa law provides for three types of representation plans, with the choice of plan being determined by the board of supervisors, unless the voters petition for a change in the plan. Currently, Palo Alto County utilizes Plan Three, where supervisors live in the district that they represent.
Palo Alto County Attorney Lyssa Henderson explained the different types of representation plans using the following example.
Plan 1: At Large
Under Plan One, all supervisors are elected by ALL electors in the County. The Supervisor is not required to reside in any specific supervisor district. Therefore, the top vote getters would be elected, regardless of where they live.
Plan 2: At Large with Districts
Plan Two allows one supervisor to be elected from each supervisor district. Supervisor districts are divided according to population so that each supervisor District has equal population.
Under Plan 2 all voters in the county cast votes for all supervisors, but only one person per Supervisor District can be elected. In this scenario, the top vote getter from each district would be elected to serve on the Board of Supervisors.
Plan 3: Elected by Districts
Under Plan Three, Palo Alto County is divided into Supervisor Districts as in plan two.
However, voters are only permitted to vote for their Supervisor District. Therefore, if a voter lives in Supervisor District Four you can only vote for the candidates in District Four You cannot cast votes in the other district races.
The next step will depend on the outcome of the petition drive and potentially the General Election in November.
At that time, should the voters choose to reduce the size of the board, a re-districting would have to take place in 2013, so that candidates for the three-member board would be able to run for the office in the 2014 General Election. .
That would happen in 2013, so that candidates could run for office in the 2014 General Election," Henderson explains. "The measure to reduce supervisors would appear on the ballot in 2012, and if it passes, in 2013, under Plan Three, districts would be re-drawn to become three so when voters go to the polls in 2014, the new districts are established so voters know who to vote for within those districts."