# GOTV



I hate door knocking

Jim Chrisinger is a retired public servant living in Ankeny. He served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Iowa and elsewhere. 

I hate door knocking. I’m not an extrovert; bothering people in their homes isn’t my thing. But our democracy is dear to me and I know I need to do everything I can to preserve it.  

So Sunday afternoon, door knock I did. My list consisted of 26 Democratic doors (households) with 39 voters. No one answered at fifteen of those doors, so I left Democratic campaign literature and my flyer describing ways to vote and offering my help. I’ll follow up with texts where I have a number.  

I asked those with whom I did speak what their most important issue was for November. The plurality answer was some form of abortion/Roe/women’s rights. 

Schools was second: “Don’t defund our schools.” “Reynolds is mutilating public schools.”  

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How to vote early in Iowa (2022 edition)

As of August 30, Iowans can submit absentee ballot request forms to their county auditors for the November 8 election.

I’m a strong advocate for voting before election day, and Iowa Democrats need to bank early votes in midterms, to counteract the GOP’s longstanding turnout advantage.

But Republicans have substantially changed Iowa’s voting laws since the last general election. So even if you’ve voted by mail before, I would encourage you to make different plans to cast your ballot this year.

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Iowa Democrats face bigger challenges than voter registration numbers

Top Iowa Republicans crowed this month when the state’s official figures showed the GOP had expanded its voter registration lead over Democrats. At this point in the 2018 election cycle, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Iowa by around 24,000. The current disparity is more than three times as large. According to the latest numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office, Iowa has 681,871 active registered Republicans, 597,120 Democrats, and 555,988 no-party voters.

The voter registration totals should concern Democrats, but two other trends facing the party’s candidates in this midterm election should worry them more.

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What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa primary absentee ballot

Iowa’s June 7 primary election will be the first conducted under restrictions on absentee voting that Republicans enacted in 2021.

Two changes in particular greatly increase the risk that Iowans attempting to vote by mail will not have their ballots counted. First, all ballots must arrive at the county auditor’s office by 8:00 pm on election day. Late-arriving ballots will not be counted, regardless of any postmark. So at this writing, it’s far too late to safely put a ballot in the mail.

Second, Republicans made it much harder for voters to have someone else hand-deliver their completed absentee ballot.

If you have an ballot sitting at home, do not mail it on Monday. Here are your best options for making sure your vote will be counted.

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Vote early in Iowa—but not by mail, if possible

Early voting for Iowa’s June 7 primary began on May 18. Voting before election day has many advantages. You don’t have to worry about illness, work obligations, or a family emergency keeping you from casting a ballot. Once officials have recorded that you voted, you should stop receiving unsolicited phone calls and knocks at the door.

However, I now discourage Iowans from voting by mail unless there is no alternative. Recent changes to state law have greatly increased the risk of a mailed ballot never being counted.

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Thoughts on the French presidential election and voter turnout

Matt Hardin suggests five reforms to make voting easier in the U.S., modeled on how presidential elections are conducted in France.

I recently took a vacation to Paris and got to see French democracy up close.

While my wife and I were there, France held the second and final round of its presidential election, which is a simple runoff between the top two candidates from the first round.

On April 24 the incumbent president, Emmanuel Macron, soundly defeated the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, 59 percent to 41 percent. One of the most reported-on figures in the French media was the abstention rate—the percent of registered voters who didn’t vote.

According to the French, the 28 percent abstention rate (so, 72 percent turnout) is an alarming sign for their democracy. Usually, only about 15 to 20 percent of French voters stay home.

Despite the hand wringing in France, the comparatively low abstention and high turnout stunned me. I wanted to understand how they do it.

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