Saturday, February 24, 2024

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With all the close elections this year, it made me wonder how election recounts work?

Some states recount votes automatically following narrow margins of victory; others allow recounts after voter petitions. In Iowa, a recount must be requested “not later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the county board’s canvass of the election in question,” according to provisions laid out in Iowa Code section 50.48.

Recounts are conducted county by county by a three-person board, with the leading and trailing candidate each designating one board member, then agreeing on a third. Recounts can be completed either by hand or machine.

If the margin between candidates is less than 1%, costs are covered by each county (i.e., taxpayers). Otherwise, the candidate requesting a recount is required to post a bond, which is returned if the recount reveals a different result. In all other cases, the bond is deposited into the general fund of the state or county.

I enjoyed learning about veterans’ organizations in the Adel Living magazine. The story mentioned flag retirement burn pits, but isn’t flag burning a way to protest?

Federal law in Chapter 5 of Title 4 of the United States Code known as the “flag code” establishes many guidelines on the appearance and display of the U.S. flag. The language used in the law is non-binding, so the guidelines are not mandatory and no penalties are laid out. The flag code also states that “the flag should never be used as wearing apparel.” 

Historically, the Flag Protection Act of 1968 prohibited flag desecration, which included flag burning. In the landmark Texas v. Johnson decision in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag was protected speech under the First Amendment. Flag desecration was prohibited in 48 states at the time. Several attempts to ban flag burning and other desecration on a federal level have made their way through Congress, but the form of protest remains protected, albeit contested.

While flag burning often signifies protest, it is also the preferred way of retiring a U.S. flag. Section 8k of the Flag Code says: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” The flag should be completely burned to ashes. If burning isn’t an option, burial is an acceptable alternative. Anyone can retire a flag, but several local organizations provide the service; many have drop boxes. Check with your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, American Legion, Boy and Girl Scout troops, or Elks Lodge.

Why are there so many blue streetlights around Des Moines?

No, it’s not a blacklight, and it’s not an invitation to host a rave. The blue and purple tints aren’t intentional. MidAmerican Energy said some LED bulbs are discolored due to a manufacturer defect, and the issue is impacting several cities across the continent. If you see a discolored streetlight, you can submit a repair form at Note “purple or blue light” in the comment box. 

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