Monday, August 17, 2020

Step-by-Step, I Get My Main-in Ballot for the 2020 General Election and Submit It

This 2020 November General Election falls with the time of our COVID-19 pandemic, as did the primary election. During the primary, I requested a main-in ballot, filled it out, and returned it. The process wasn't entirely seamless, though, so I'm being more careful this time for the general election--and I'm writing down the steps and publishing this article to help anyone (especially locally) who many wonder what the process is.

For the primary election, the Iowa secretary of state sent out ballot requests to all registered Iowa voters in order to make voting by mail easier and, therefore, safer because of our current coronavirus crisis. Two situations arose from this action by the secretary of state: 1) I didn't receive my request, and 2) our Iowa state legislature got huffed and passed legislation to make the mail-in process more difficult to facilitate, especially for county auditors.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate did send out mail-in request forms to Iowans, but my wife and I did not receive the forms. Via Facebook and a voting-savvy friend, my wife and I were able to download and print request forms, fill them out, and return them so that we could vote safely without crowding up the voting stations.

As the November election nears, concerns have also been voiced about possible delays in the U.S. Postal Service's mail pick-up and deliveries, prompting possible late delivery of mail-in ballots, which would cause those ballots to not be counted.

Therefore, it's best to secure your mail-in ballot early and to do everything you can to ensure that the ballot is delivered on time, whether by mail or by handing in your ballot to your local county auditor. Here are the procedures I'm currently following, and those I plan to utilize once I receive my ballot, in order to ensure that my vote counts.

  1. I searched online and found the "State of Iowa Official Absentee Ballot Request Form," the mail-in ballot request form. My wife and I ran off the forms and filled them out, being sure we didn't transpose any numbers or create any situation where the forms might not be considered completed. If we didn't have a printer, we could have gone to the county courthouse and received a ballot request from the auditor's office.
  2. I called the auditor's office and asked when the ballot request forms could be submitted, and the auditor is currently accepting request forms. I filled out the request form, donned my covid mask, grabbed my hand sanitizer, and delivered my request to the Jefferson County Courthouse auditor's office. The request form can be mailed to the following address: Auditor's Office, Jefferson County Courthouse, 51 W. Briggs Ave., Fairfield, IA 52556.
  3. Our county auditor clerk said the last date the auditor can receive the ballot request form is October 24, by 5:00 PM. 
  4. General election main-in ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by November 9, 12:00 PM.
  5. Mail-in ballots can be submitted by hand any time up through 9:00 PM on election day.
My wife and I plan to fill out the ballot soon after receiving it, and then I will mask up and deliver it in person to the county auditor's office. That way, the only mail interaction will be the delivery of the ballot. Here is an article about other options than mailing in your absentee ballot: Absentee Ballot Submission Options.

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