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IA County Auditors: Plan Big, Plan Now for Primary Vote


Tuesday, May 10, 2022   

It's been a year since Iowa adopted sweeping election law changes. For those who haven't voted since then, local administrators say going in without a plan might bring some unwanted surprises for the June 7 primary.

Among the key changes is a shorter window for early in-person voting, which for this primary opens up on May 18.

Iowans also have less time to request and send in absentee ballots. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said that's why people need to be thorough in filling out an absentee ballot.

He noted that with mail service not as speedy, fixing any mistakes won't be easy.

"Before, you used to have time to cure something," said Miller, "we could you send you a new application to fill out - but there's just not enough time. "

Miller said having an alternate plan can help voters overcome obstacles - including something non-election-related, such as a COVID-19 infection.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is May 23. The new rules say it has to be received no later than the end of Election Day, rather than just being postmarked ahead of time.

Ballots received the day after won't be counted.

Rules surrounding ballot drop boxes also were modified, and now Iowa counties are allowed to have one designated location - which has to be under video surveillance.

Louisa County Auditor Sandi Sturgell said that's a noteworthy change for a rural area like hers, and voters should research availability.

"We are not using that any longer," said Sturgell. "They have to bring it directly into our office, because we don't have the security that they require for the dropbox that we had always been able to use before, that's on the courthouse wall. So, please don't put your ballots in there."

In 2020, some counties used multiple drobox sites amid COVID concerns.

Brad Anderson, state director of AARP Iowa, said they hope the changes won't deter older voters in this year's midterms - and that they'll see participation just as strong as the energy from two years ago.

"While some of those measures, such as every voter getting an absentee ballot request form, are not happening this cycle," said Anderson, "we want to let voters know that they do have a lot of options."

Beyond absentee ballots and early in-person voting at your county auditor's office, there will still be polling sites on Election Day. However, those will now close an hour earlier, at 8 p.m.

Disclosure: AARP Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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