Government

Shorter early voting period kicks off in Iowa

There is less than a month to the June 5 primaries

State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, a 2018 candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, talks Monday with Kim Corieri Boeke of Ankeny at a 7:30 a.m. rally attended by more than 30 Boulton supporters. Supporters then walked two blocks from his downtown law office to the Polk County auditor’s office to cast their ballots for the June 5 primary. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)
State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, a 2018 candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, talks Monday with Kim Corieri Boeke of Ankeny at a 7:30 a.m. rally attended by more than 30 Boulton supporters. Supporters then walked two blocks from his downtown law office to the Polk County auditor’s office to cast their ballots for the June 5 primary. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

With less than a month to go before the June 5 primary, early voting began Monday under an amended law that shrinks the time allotted for casting early ballots from 40 days to 29.

The six Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to face GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds this November urged their supporters to get out to vote now.

“This is the big day. The election starts here and now,” said state Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, at a rally in Des Moines, one of a dozen his campaign organized across the state.

Other governor campaigns were busy, too, as the primary nears.

Cathy Glasson, a union leader from Coralville, held a rally Saturday in Iowa City.

Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell’s campaign sponsored more than 100 volunteer rallies over the past week, urging his supporters to vote early, his campaign said.

Boulton, Glasson and Hubbell did not themselves vote Monday. But Andy McGuire, a former state Democratic Party chairwoman who also is running for the gubernatorial nomination, did cast her ballot.

She went to the Polk County Auditor’s office, accompanied by one of her daughters. McGuire said if she is elected, she’d seek to make it easier to vote early.

“When I am governor, I will work to increase the window for early voting,” she said.

This year, Iowa voters will have a shorter period — 29 days — in which to cast early ballots. Previously, Iowans had 40 days to vote early.

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However, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a number of changes to Iowa’s election law last year, among them lowering the number of days to vote early.

Candidates must get at least 35 percent of the vote to land their political parties’ nominations — otherwise the decision will be made later at party state conventions.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, voters can request absentee ballots through their county auditor’s office. They can also vote in-person at the auditor’s office. Absentee ballot request forms are available at VoterReadyIowa.org.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is May 25. And this is the first primary in which voter identification requirements will apply. Voters must include their driver’s license or non-operator’s ID number on the request. If a voter does not have one of those forms of identification, he or she should place a Voter ID PIN card number on the request form. Those cards were mailed in December by the Iowa Secretary of State.

Typically, early voting is more subdued in primaries than in a general election, just as turnout is overall.

Besides the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Democratic primaries in the Corridor include Linn County Board of Supervisors District 1; Johnson County Board of Supervisors; Secretary of State; state Senate District 37; state House District 68; and U.S. House District 1.

There also is a Republican primary for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

In 2016, about 101,000 people voted statewide in the Democratic primary, with the most visible race the four-person contest for the party’s nomination to run for the U.S. Senate. About 21,300 of those voting in the primary cast early ballots.

Rod Boshart of The Gazette’s Des Moines Bureau contributed.

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