Democrats seek vote after election denier named Warren County auditor

Democrats in and near Warren County are collecting signatures to demand a special election after the county board of supervisors named David Whipple, a 2020 election denier, to serve as county auditor.

All three Warren County supervisors—board chair Darren Heater, Crystal McIntyre, and Mark Snell—are Republicans, and all voted on June 6 to appoint Whipple through the end of 2024. He fills a vacancy left by the county’s longtime Democratic Auditor Traci VanderLinden, who retired in May. (Snell ran unsuccessfully against VanderLinden in 2020.)

Whereas Whipple has no background in election administration, the other applicant for the position was the county’s current deputy auditor Kim Sheets.

Amy Duncan covered the supervisors’ meeting for the Indianola Independent Advocate. Whipple emphasized his background in construction and his experience hiring, training, and managing staff. Sheets said she knows the strengths and weaknesses of the auditor’s office employees and would be able to mentor them to improve operations.

McIntyre acknowledged it “looks weird” for the board to be considering Whipple, a personal friend, for the vacancy. “It came down for me is the detail-oriented person especially in elections,” she added. “The public, you’re only going to see voting, but there is real estate, there is claims. I want the detail person.”

It appears that no one at the meeting discussed one important detail: Whipple helped spread baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.


Central Iowa Democrats took screenshots from Whipple’s Facebook feed last week, before he scrubbed most of the content. In late 2020 and January 2021, Warren County’s new auditor repeatedly shared QAnon or election denier content.

A few days after the election, Whipple shared a false claim about results in Minnesota. If he had checked the facts first, he would have known the total votes cast for president in our neighbor to the north was about 3.28 million, not 5.1 million.

Days later, Whipple falsely claimed Joe Biden had admitted “MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD.”

Whipple also expressed his faith in Trump to stop “the left”:

He was excited by Trump’s announcement in December 2020 that he would stop the alleged election “theft.” All of the former president’s claims about voter fraud were false.

Four days before the January 6 coup attempt, Whipple declared, “The line in the sand is near” while sharing a QAnon video.

On January 6, 2021, Whipple also shared a conspiracy video about the 9/11 attacks.


Under Iowa law, voters can call for a special election to fill a county vacancy if they collect signatures from eligible voters in the county totaling at least 10 percent of the votes cast for president or governor in the most recent general election.

Warren County residents cast 23,837 votes for governor last year (subtracting over- and under-votes), which means Democrats need to collect at least 2,384 valid signatures from adults who are eligible to vote in Warren County. Of course it’s always wise to collect several hundred more than the minimum, in case some signatures or petition pages are disqualified. The deadline to submit petitions is fourteen days after the appointment to fill the vacancy, which occurred on June 6.

The Warren County Democrats have organized drive-up petition signing events for the following locations:

Memorial Park, 602 North G St, Indianola

  • Thursday June 15, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Friday June 16, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Saturday June 17, 9 am to 8:30 pm
  • Sunday, June 18, 9 am to 8:30 pm

Brownie Park, 805 Cherry Parkway, Norwalk

  • Thursday June 15, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Friday June 16, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Saturday June 17, 9 am to 8:30 pm
  • Sunday, June 18, 9 am to 8:30 pm

Lindhart Park 1005 S 5th St, Carlisle

  • Thursday June 15, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Friday June 16, 5pm to 8:30 pm
  • Saturday June 17, 9 am to 8:30 pm
  • Sunday, June 18, 9 am to 8:30 pm

Only eligible voters living in Warren County can sign, and they should not sign more than one petition. Anyone with questions should email

The Polk County Democrats are also organizing canvassing efforts in Warren County through this weekend. Volunteers who are willing to knock doors to collect signatures should email

Steve Kirby, chair of the Warren County Republicans, criticized the effort to overturn the supervisors’ decision and hold an election that may cost the county $75,000 to $100,000.

Warren County Democratic Party Chair Jim Culbert told KNIA-KRLS radio that Sheets is “highly qualified to do the job, knows what she is doing, and is ready to take over, being bypassed by somebody we don’t know, we don’t know anything about him.” As for Whipple’s background as a trainer, Culbert said, “the best trainer has to know their subject matter before they can train anybody. How is he going to train a poll worker if he is there reading the same book himself?”

Top photo: Warren County Administration Building, formerly Indianola High School, Indianola, Iowa. Photographed in 2019 by Paul R. Burley, available under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, via Wikimedia Commons.

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin

  • I would greatly appreciate...

    …if it is possible, a brief explanation from a BH writer/reader of why Warren County politics are the way they are. I’ve seen Warren County stories and headlines over the past twenty years that make me wonder what is going on in Warren County and why.

    • what do you mean?

      Do you mean how Republican it’s gotten?

      A couple dozen Iowa counties that used to be decent Democratic vote-producers or swing counties are now solidly Republican. Warren County also has some “exurban” type areas due to rapid population growth in Norwalk, Carlisle, and Indianola.

      • Yes, thank you, the Republican shift is one thing that interests me...

        …and I am also interested in the extended wrangling over what to do about the Warren County courthouse, as well as what I seem to recall were other kinds of wrangling over local spending and projects over the past decade-plus. That included a large crowded angry county property-tax meeting in February that was covered by KCCI-TV.

        I get the general impression from Central Iowa news coverage that there is more county-level political angst and dysfunction in Warren County than in other Central Iowa counties. Maybe that impression is wrong. If it’s right, I’m curious about the reasons.