MUSCATINE — The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has reported it will sent absentee ballot requests to all registered Iowa voters before the fall election, Muscatine County Auditor Leslie Soukle confirmed Thursday.
As with the June 2 primary election, Iowa’s roughly 2 million voters are being allowed the opportunity to vote absentee due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even with the state planning a mass mailing of ballot requests, Soule said her office has already received about 200 requests for mail-in ballots. While in-person voting will still be available, Soule said she has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of people voting absentee.
“I don’t think it will be until maybe late August or early September — they haven’t released a date yet — but they will be sending applications to everybody,” Soule said.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Iowa legislature passed a law prohibiting Secretary of State Paul Pate from sending absentee requests without the approval of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council unanimously approved allowing Pate to send the requests.
She said people who don’t wish to wait for the mailing, ballot requests are available both in the auditor’s office at the Muscatine County office building and online at the auditor’s web site at https://www.co.muscatine.ia.us/145/Absentee-Ballot. Another option is to call the auditors office and ask them to mail one. Because original signatures are needed, people should return the forms by mail or in the auditor’s drop box.
Soule also said the ballots themselves wouldn’t go out to voters until Oct. 5.
“We always get quite a few (absentee ballots) in the general election,” Soule said. “I don’t remember how many we had in the last presidential election, but it was probably our highest with just under 10,000.”
She said a high number of people had voted absentee in the primary and expects a large absentee turnout in November.
Soule said there had never been any concern with security from voter fraud with the mail-in ballot system, saying that a voter has to provide information for the ballot, such as a birth date and driver’s license information. The voter also has to sign the ballot.
“They have been doing this since I got here about 25 years ago, but it has just gotten more popular over the years,” she said.
Soule said she is unconcerned that the November election would be delayed, saying she did not believe it was a possibility. On Thursday, President Donald J. Trump tweeted the possibility of delaying the election, something which has never been done. Trump claimed that with mail-in voting the 2020 election would be “the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history.” No basis was offered for the statement. According to the U.S. Constitution the dates of elections are selected by the U.S. legislature. Both Democrats and Republicans have rejected the idea.
“I’m not expecting it to be delayed,” Soule said.
She said if it were delayed past the end of the year, when terms expire, the incumbents would have to hold office until the election could be held.
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