Voting made easy and safe
Greene County and the state of Iowa are making it extremely easy for us to vote in the November general election. Hats off to them.
County Auditor Jane Heun inserted a yellow one-page flyer in last week’s Bee that contained a pair of absentee ballot request forms. It went to every home in the county. And Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate before long will be mailing the same absentee ballot request form to every registered voter in Iowa.
The last few years I’ve voted absentee by going up to the county auditor’s office in the southwest corner of the second floor of the courthouse and filling out the request form.
Heun or County Election Deputy Billie Hoskins then gives me an absentee ballot, on which I cast my votes for the candidates of my choice right there in the auditor’s office. I put my ballot in the special envelope they give me, seal it and give it back to them. Done.
If I chose, I could still do it that way. But this year they’ve made it even easier.
Using either the form that Heun inserted into The Bee or the one that Pate will be mailing to me, I’ll fill it out to request the actual Nov. 3 general election ballot, which will be mailed to me some time after Oct. 5 (by law, no sooner than 29 days before the election). I’ll mark it with my picks while sitting on my couch, and mail it in to the Greene County Auditor’s Office.
I can also put the completed ballot request form in an envelope, take it to the courthouse and drop it in the dropbox at the north end of the railing just outside the east door. They pick up from the dropbox every business day.
Through the magic of today’s electronics, I can trace my mailed ballot to see when it arrives at the auditor’s office by clicking on a special link on the Greene County website and following its instructions.
If the link shows that somehow my mailed ballot does not make it to the auditor’s office by Election Day, I can go to my polling place on Nov. 3 and vote in person, telling the poll officials to cancel my mailed ballot.
(A mailed absentee ballot can be received by the 9 p.m. voting deadline on Election Day and still be counted.)
There is no way a voter can cast two ballots, because his or her name is corroborated with his or her voting ID number.
And if for some reason I didn’t get around to sending my mailed absentee ballot back in time to be received in the auditor’s office by Nov. 3, I can take it to my precinct’s voting place that day, surrender it to the poll officials and vote in person instead.
I do tend to procrastinate at times.
For that reason, when I receive my mailed absentee ballot form in the mail, I will make a special note to fill it out right away and send it back. Once in a while something can get lost in the mail, and it’s best to be on the safe side and give it plenty of time to get to the auditor’s office.
The absentee ballot request form asks for an “ID number.” If you have a driver’s license, your number on the license is your “ID number.”
If you don’t have a driver’s license, you’re entitled to a “non-operator ID number.” If you have neither, you will use the four-digit voter personal identification number (PIN) found on your voter identification card.
Confused about that? Just call Heun or Hoskins at the auditor’s office, 515-386-5680. They’ll tell you what you need.
A few things to be aware of:
• If you’ve moved from one Greene County address to another one in Greene County, you don’t need to re-register to vote. The auditor will update your voter registration precinct information.
• But if you’ve moved into Greene County from another county, you will need to re-register with the Greene County auditor.
• A new law adopted by the Iowa Legislature in June allows county auditors to reduce the number of voting precincts in their county by up to 35 percent. That’s to make it easier to conduct the election if a county has a shortage of poll workers, for instance because older poll workers may not want to be at a polling place for a stint of several hours because of COVID-19.
In Greene County, the maximum number of precincts that could be reduced is two (out of the existing seven). That would leave five operating precincts for the Nov. 3 election.
Heun doesn’t know yet whether it will be necessary here to reduce one or two Greene County precincts for Nov. 3. She also doesn’t know which precincts might be reduced as of now.
For voters who prefer to vote in person on Election Day, the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
With so many options on how to vote, there should be one of them that fits every registered voter.
The very high voting turnout in the June primary this year indicates a heightened interest in the 2020 elections.
I look for a possibly record number of voters in Greene County on Nov. 3.
Thanks to the county auditor’s office and the secretary of state’s office for going the extra mile to accommodate the voting public.