Government

What They're Thinking: Johnson County Auditor discusses upcoming elections, voting laws

Iowa City voters to have three election days over three months

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert in front  of the sculpture
Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert in front of the sculpture "The River" by Shirley Wyrick at the Johnson County Administration Building in Iowa City, Iowa, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Johnson County Auditor’s Office is in the midst of preparing for multiple elections, with an Iowa City Council primary scheduled for Sept. 4, the council special election Oct. 2 and a general election Nov. 6.

Election officials also are dealing with the state’s new voter ID law. An Iowa Supreme Court ruling this month affirmed the state’s ability to reduce the number of early voting days but struck down requiring pin numbers and IDs for absentee request forms, among other changes.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert explains what Iowa City and Johnson County voters need to know before the upcoming elections.

Q: Do you remember a time when the auditor’s office has been this busy?

A: Oh, absolutely. We’ve had years where we’ve had six, seven special elections throughout the year. This is kind of crazy, but I would not say headache crazy.

Q: Do you expect voter turnout to be affected by the number of elections planned in Iowa City in the near future?

A: My honest opinion right now, and you’re not the first person to ask me this, is I just don’t know. You keep hearing everything, that we’re going to see a blue wave year, Republicans saying that’s just not going to happen. At this very moment I really don’t know.

Q: It might be a confusing year for voters with the new voter ID law and changes to early voting. What concerns are you hearing from Johnson County residents?

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A: Yes, well I mean just “Where do I need to be? Am I registered to vote? Do I need to bring a card with me?”

Also people need to remember, and I’m speaking as the auditor that needs to make sure people understand, that city council races are pretty much nonpartisan. People run on a party but when they appear on a ballot, they are not listed as Dem or Republican.

So that kind of changes the race when you’re talking city council-wise compared to state reps, state senator, U.S. House and up the food chain.

Q: What do voters need to bring with them to the polls on each Election Day?

A: It all depends if they’re already preregistered to vote. If they’re pre-registered, bring your ID, that’s it. If not, bring your ID or a friend that can attest that “Yeah, you live in that district.”

There’s a lot of components out there. One thing is, the whole voter law change is that you do not need to provide a pin, your driver’s license number or non-operator ID now to get an absentee request form.

Q: Is there anything else voters should know?

A: The other thing is we, and I have been absolutely adamant I did not want to do this, and the Supreme Court struck it down, is that we will not be doing signature verification ...

I can’t speak for (other counties) but I think all of us are happy to see that go by the wayside ...

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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