Iowa secretary of state will mail every registered voter a ballot request form for June primary
Gov. Reynolds announces 88 new COVID-19 cases and an outbreak in a Cedar Rapids long term care facility during a press conference on March 30th. Des Moines Register
The Iowa Secretary of State's office will mail every registered voter in Iowa an absentee ballot request form ahead of the state's June 2 primary, it announced Tuesday.
The plan to send ballot request forms to 2 million Iowans comes as concerns about in-person voting have mounted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other states have moved their primary dates back out of fear of spreading the virus as people gather at polling sites.
Iowa's June 2 primary is scheduled to go forward as planned, but Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is encouraging Iowans to vote by mail to reduce the spread of the virus. Last week, Pate extended the early voting period for mailed ballots to 40 days, up from 29. That means Iowans will be able to cast mailed ballots beginning on April 23.
"The safety of voters while casting their ballots is our top priority," Pate said in a news release. "The June 2 primary election will go on as scheduled because it’s important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting. The safest way to vote will be by mail."
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The ballot request forms will be sent as one mass mailing in mid- to late April, Pate said, and will include prepaid postage for return mailing to county auditors. Pate encouraged Iowans who hadn't done so to register to vote or update their address so the form will be sent to the right location. Voters can register online.
Iowans can also download the ballot request form online at the Iowa Secretary of State's website.
Iowans who receive the request forms will need to return them to their county auditor in order to receive an actual absentee ballot. When the time comes, voters will have to fill out and mail back their ballots.
The ballot request form requires Iowans to fill out information like their name, date of birth and address, an ID number, and whether they want to vote in a Democratic or Republican primary.
"We don’t just blindly mail out ballots to people who don’t request them. That’s like mailing out blank checks. There have to be security provisions in place to ensure the integrity of the vote," said Kevin Hall, a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office.
Iowa's primary will feature competitive races for federal and state legislative offices. At the federal level, Democrats will choose a nominee to face off against Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King also faces several challengers in the 4th Congressional District primary.
As of Tuesday, Iowa had 497 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, including seven related deaths. Officials have said the state's "peak" of infections could still be two to three weeks away.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
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