Three ways to vote early in Iowa

UPDATE: Click here for the 2012 version of this post.

Iowans will set a new record this year for early voting in a midterm election. About 242,000 voters cast early ballots here in 2002 and 2006, but as of October 22, the Secretary of State’s office reported that voters have requested 317,973 absentee ballots, and county auditors have received 202,037 ballots. Those numbers include mailed ballots as well as early voting in person.

Iowans who want to vote before election day have three options. Details and the partisan breakdown of early votes cast so far are after the jump.

From an October 22 press release by the Secretary of State’s Office:

Voting by Mail:

All eligible Iowa voters can vote by mail by downloading, completing, and returning an absentee ballot request form. To do so, visit http://www.IowaVotes.gov and click on the “Absentee Voting” link or visit the direct link at http://www.sos.state.ia.us/pdf… The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is 5:00 pm next Friday, October 29.

The completed form should then be sent to the voter’s local county auditor. To find contact information for all of Iowa’s 99 county auditors, visit http://www.IowaVotes.gov and click on the “Find Your County Auditor” link. Completed ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Monday, November 1 and received no later than Monday, November 8. Ballots may also be hand delivered to the county auditor’s office until polls close on Election Day.

Voting at County Auditor’s Office:

Iowans can vote early in-person at their local county auditor’s office during normal business hours until the day before the election, Monday, November 1. To find contact information for all of Iowa’s 99 county auditors, visit http://www.IowaVotes.gov and click on the “Find Your County Auditor” link.

Voting at a Satellite Station:

Iowans can also vote at satellite voting stations set up by their county auditor’s office. County auditors will post public notice of these locations at least seven days before the station is open for early voting. Voters should contact their auditor’s office regarding satellite polling locations.

More information on the upcoming November 2 General Election can be found by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.IowaVotes.gov, by calling the Iowa Secretary of State’s office at 515-281-0145 (toll-free at 1-888-SOS-VOTE), or by contacting your local county auditor’s office.

Note: county auditors will open their offices for voting in person on Saturday, October 23 and Saturday, October 30. The process only takes 10-15 minutes. You fill out an absentee ballot request form, receive your ballot, fill it out in a voting booth (don’t forget to complete the back side!), then seal it in the secrecy envelope and place that inside your signed affadavit envelope before handing it back to the county auditor staff.

I know many people enjoy the experience of voting on election day, but voting early helps Democratic candidates by shrinking the universe of people they need to contact for last-minute GOTV. If you have a landline, you should receive fewer political phone calls once your county auditor has received your ballot.

Iowa Democrats still have an advantage in early votes, but the Republican Party of Iowa has gained ground since the first absentee ballots went out last month. Compared to previous election cycles, Iowa Republicans have clearly stepped up their game in this area. Senator Chuck Grassley and gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad have sent out multiple mass mailings containing absentee ballot request forms, and the Branstad campaign has done early GOTV robocalls too. As of October 22, Democrats accounted for about 45 percent of the 317,973 absentee ballots requested in Iowa and Republicans about 36.5 percent. Democrats accounted for about 46 percent of the 202,037 absentee ballots county auditors have already received, and Republicans 38 percent.

The Secretary of State’s Office is updating absentee ballot numbers daily at IowaVotes.gov.The breakdown of absentee ballots by county is updated weekly on Fridays. As of October 22, Democrats have strong leads in many counties containing battleground Iowa House and Senate districts.

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