January 25, 2021

Officials receiving lots of questions on absentee voting

GREENFIELD— The Adair County Auditor’s Office has fielded a lot of phone calls lately about the truth on absentee ballots ahead of Election Day later this fall.

Elections/IT Deputy Auditor Joshua Nelson said he thinks the climb in phone calls recently is mostly normal for a General Election year. However, an increase in talk about absentee voting and election security this election season, as well as increased mailings from various sources, have likely also led to more questions.

“I don’t think a lot of people realized [voting absentee by mail] was an option in this state [before now], so it’s new to a lot of people,” Nelson explained. “Then on top of that, you’re getting a lot of stuff mailed out, advertised and talked about. For those who aren’t familiar with the process it can seem a little overwhelming or confusing.”

Nelson said most of the items residents would be receiving or seeing either encourages them to get registered to vote or request an absentee ballot be mailed to them.

Nelson said people wondering what to do with a absentee request form they’ve been sent should know that the auditor’s office will not send out these requests unless it is asked for. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate sent out request forms recently and they can also come from other entities. Any of these may be sent to the county auditor’s office to request an absentee ballot by mail.

“If it’s a blank form, all it’s saying is that I want an absentee ballot mailed to me. If you don’t want it, you can disregard it,” Nelson said. “If you have requested one, what do you do when you get more? You can disregard it.”

Nelson said the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, which is also the voter pre-registration deadline.

Absentee ballots cannot be mailed before Oct. 5. They must be returned with a postmark no later than Nov. 2 to be received no later than Nov. 9.

Nelson said that no matter how people choose to vote, whether in person or absentee by mail, they should rest assured that all possible measures are in place to keep the election accurate and safe.

“Not a lot has needed to change because a lot of the checks and balances apply no matter the size of the election,” Nelson said. “As far as voting goes, a lot of systems are in place. It doesn’t go through a lot of hands, but a lot of eyes are on the information and there are lots of checks and balances throughout the process to make sure that we’re confident in the results and that everything is as it should be.”