Guest Columnist

Election officials: Iowans will decide how to vote. We'll make it safe

A voting booth is prepared for early voting in special elections at the auditor's office at the Jean Oxley Linn County P
A voting booth is prepared for early voting in special elections at the auditor's office at the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Our national dialogue is consumed with discussion about health, safety, freedoms and liberties. There is no doubt Iowans are concerned about these important matters.

One of the ways you can contribute is by exercising your right to vote in the June 2 primary election. Primaries determine which candidates represent their party in the November general election. We encourage every eligible Iowan who chooses to be a member of the Republican or Democratic parties to vote on June 2. And you should vote in a way that makes you feel safe and empowered.

Here are the ways the Secretary of State’s Office and county auditors across Iowa are working to help you feel secure when voting:

• Vote absentee by mail

This year, for the first time ever, the Secretary of State’s Office proactively sent absentee ballot request forms to all active registered voters. Fear of contracting COVID-19 should not be a barrier to voting. Every eligible voter should know they have access to cast a ballot even during a public health emergency. This is one way we can make the right to vote more accessible despite the pandemic.

All a voter needs to do is mail in their completed request form. Then once you receive the ballot, fill it out and return via mail. All postage is paid. Remember, the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is May 22.

Absentee ballots are protected by state laws and rules that determine how they must be handled. Ballots are placed inside envelopes that must be signed and sealed by the voter. Steps are taken to ensure mailed ballots are as private as those cast inside a polling place. Voters can track the status of their absentee ballot online.

• Vote absentee in-person

All 99 county auditors accept absentee ballots in-person ahead of the June 2 primary. Due to social distancing measures, auditors have adjusted the usual methods for handling this process. Counties have instituted drop-off boxes, curbside, and drive-thru voting opportunities. You should contact your county auditor for more information about voting absentee in-person.

• Vote in person on June 2

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Going to your local polling place and filling out a ballot feels patriotic. Make no mistake, polls will be open on June 2. However, many locations are being consolidated for the June primary.

We are taking numerous steps to protect voters and poll workers. The Secretary of State’s Office is providing hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. Additionally, each county is receiving a $300 grant for every precinct to cover the costs of other materials that will help reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

The Secretary of State’s Office and all 99 county auditors are committed to securing your health and safety while making the voting process available. We are collaborating to promote social distancing and cleanliness in the physical spaces where you vote.

For more information about your voting options, visit VoterReady.Iowa.gov.

You are the only one who can decide how best to cast your ballot. Vote in a way that makes you feel safe and empowered.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s Auditors Working Group includes auditors from Grundy, Sioux, Clayton, Woodbury, Union, Carroll, Scott, Clay, Emmet, Black Hawk, Ringgold, Winnebago and Page counties.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.