A rose to DART, the Des Moines area transit service, for giving metro voters free rides to the polls on Election Day and to the Greater Des Moines YMCA for providing free child care while parents voted.
DART doesn't have exact numbers on how many voters took advantage of its offer, but data indicates many did: Ridership was up 2 percent to 3 percent over a normal weekday.
The Greater Des Moines YMCA’s “Parents to the Polls” program offered two hours of free child care on Nov. 6 for both members and nonmembers.
Two private ride services, Uber and Lyft, also offered discounts for people going to vote on Tuesday. Some businesses also made sure their employees had an opportunity to vote on Election Day by offering flexible work schedules.
These types of programs to support and encourage voters were especially helpful, as Iowa shortened the window for absentee voting this year.
Overall voter turnout in Iowa topped 60 percent, according to the Iowa Secretary of State, surpassing midterm elections in 2014, 2010, 2006 and even 2002. That’s progress, but Iowans still have a way to go before they match the turnout in presidential election years.
As the state heads into the caucus season and the 2020 presidential campaign, now would be a great time for other businesses and organizations to think about how they can help encourage voter turnout in future elections.
The city told the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Board last month that it would consider closing eight wading pools if budget cuts were necessary. The savings were estimated at $20,000 to $30,000 a year.
Sanders cited negative reaction to the idea and anticipation that the cuts would not be needed as factors in the decision. The fact the Register had started asking questions about the proposal may have been a factor as well.
Parks and Recreation Board Chairman George Davis noted that draining the pools would eliminate an important, free recreation activity for children, with no guaranteed replacement. “I wonder if the savings justify the service that would be not there anymore,” he said.
Another board member, Lloyd Ogle, pointed out that the parks department has already been cut nearly $6 million since the 2007 fiscal year.
Sanders made the right decision. The potential detriment to the neighborhoods involved would be far greater than the effect on the city’s $700 million budget.
The city is planning to replace the wading pools over the next 10 to 12 years with “spray grounds,” a zero-depth fountain that allows kids to play in streams of water that spurt out of the concrete. That makes sense, because the features don’t require staff supervision like wading pools do, and they can stay open three months longer.
This editorial is the opinion of the Des Moines Register’s editorial board: Carol Hunter, executive editor; Kathie Obradovich, opinion editor; Andie Dominick, editorial writer, and Richard Doak and Rox Laird, editorial board members.