Guest Columnist

'Vote Safe Iowa' makes absentee voting easy

A City of Milwaukee Election Commission worker processes and sorts absentee ballots for Tuesday's primary election, Wedn
A City of Milwaukee Election Commission worker processes and sorts absentee ballots for Tuesday's primary election, Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in downtown Milwaukee, Wis. (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s initiative, “Vote Safe Iowa,” makes it safe and easy to vote in the June 2 primary election without having to risk exposure to the coronavirus. In fact, in recent elections, more Iowans have opted to vote “absentee.” In the 2018 General Election, almost 50 percent of the votes cast in Johnson County were absentee ballots as was true for 41 percent of the votes statewide.

Voting early or “absentee” voting offers voters the flexibility of when and where to vote. Equally important is that voting early protects against any crisis that may arise on or before Election Day that prevents a voter from going to the polls to vote. Early voting also protects voters against disenfranchisement that may result when something unforeseeable prevents them from going to the polls in person.

Secretary Pate is preemptively mailing out an Absentee Ballot Request (ABR) form to all Iowa voters whose voter registration is up-to-date. If you wish to vote absentee, voters should:

1. Complete the ABR and mail it to your county auditor. (Addresses for your county auditor can be found at sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html

3. When the voter receives the primary ballot, the voter is encouraged to complete the ballot and mail it back to the auditor promptly.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m., which is also the deadline for voters to preregister, so anyone registering after that date has to vote in person, either at the auditor’s office or the polls. A “delivered” ballot must be received in the auditor’s office before the polls close on June 2 to be counted in the primary election. A mailed ballot must be postmarked no later than June 1 by an officially authorized postal service or bear a postal service bar code traceable to the date of entry into the postal system to be counted in the Primary Election. The ballot must be received by the auditor no later than noon on Monday, June 8.

If you have not received an ABR from the Secretary of State, you may need to check to ensure that you are registered to vote in Iowa and that your mailing and/or residential address is correct. If you have changed address, your voter registration must also be updated. The United States Postal Service cannot forward an ABR.

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If you are not currently registered, we suggest taking the first step and register online by completing the State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form — mymvd.iowadot.gov/VoterRegistration. Registration is easy to do if you have either an Iowa driver’s license or an Iowa non-operator ID license. If you don’t have either, you will need to print and complete the State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form — sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regtovote/search.aspx. Next, print and complete an Absentee Ballot Request form — sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html.

Mail both your voter registration and ABR forms to your county auditor.

Your county auditor will mail you an absentee ballot for the primary election. And if you updated your voter registration, you will receive a voter registration card confirming that you are properly registered to vote.

Cathy Eisenhofer is president and Susan Enzle is voter registration coordinator for the League of Women Voters of Johnson County.

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