Early voting begins Thursday for the June 2 primary election, and state and county election officials are encouraging Iowans to vote from home to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“Casting an absentee ballot from home is the best method during this pandemic,” Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate said, adding that security measures in the process ensure integrity of the absentee ballot.
To that end, Pate’s office is mailing nearly 2 million absentee ballot request forms to active registered voters. As of Monday, there were 1,994,576 active voters — 639,315 Democrats, 627,639 Republicans and 727,622 not affiliated with either party.
To cast a ballot in an Iowa primary, a voter must be registered with a political party. No-party voters, including those who identify with non-party political organizations such as Libertarians and Greens, may request a Republican or Democratic party ballot. Their registrations would then be changed to that political party.
The forms should arrive in Iowans’ mailboxes next week and will include prepaid postage for returning them to a county auditor’s office.
In Linn County, the auditor’s office mailed more than 90,000 absentee ballot requests to registered voters to drive home the message that voting from home will be the safest way to cast a ballot. Other counties are doing that, too.
The June 2 primary will decide nominees for several federal, state and county races.
At the top of the ticket in Iowa, five Democrats are seeking the nomination to face U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in the November general election. Republicans have primary contests in all four U.S. House districts. There also are primaries in state legislative and county office races.
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Pate expanded the absentee voting period for mailed ballots to 40 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in-person absentee voting begins May 4.
Iowans not already registered to vote will not receive an absentee ballot request form in the mass mailing.
Iowans eligible to vote in the primary but who do not receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail, may download a registration form from the secretary of state’s website at sos.iowa.gov and return it by mail.
The voter preregistration deadline for the June 2 primary is May 22. Voters can register at the polls on Election Day, but will need identification and proof of residency.
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