COVID having impact on getting election volunteers

BY KATIE SCOVILLE
PEN CITY CURRENT

FORT MADISON- In three months’ time, it’ll be time to cast your vote in the general election. In the past, polling stations were filled with voters, eager to cast their votes. But with COVID-19 looming, voters may rethink how they vote.

Despite cutbacks from the U.S. Postal Service announced last week affecting worker hours, transportation schedules and retail service hours, mail-in ballots will still be an important part of this year’s election.

Nikki Sugars, Deputy of Elections at the Lee County Auditor’s Office, said it will be critical that residents get ballots and requests for ballots in on time.

“It’s important that voters fill out the ballots on time. Ballots will be sent out starting Oct. 5, and this year we may see more requests than usual,” she said.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, utilizing the absentee voting will be the safest option for voters. Because of a possible influx of ballots, additional help has been added to the absentee board for counting.

COVID-19 has also presented other problems for county election officials including staffing.

“We are currently having an issue getting precinct election officials as well as polling places to hold in-person elections,” she said.

Sugars said anyone interested in volunteering to help service can call the county auditor’s office. Election officials are paid by the county.

Precinct election officials set up polling places and instruct voters how to properly use the voting equipment. More information can be found on the Lee County Auditor’s website.

But despite regular claims of voter fraud from one party or another year over year, Sugars said she isn’t overly worried about issues surfacing in Iowa.

“This isn’t a major issue in Iowa and not a huge concern for us. We have people that check and double check to make sure everyone’s vote counts,” she said.

The Lee County Auditor’s Office has been working closely with the Secretary of State’s Office to release promotional videos about absentee voting.

According to the Secretary of State’s office link to request an absentee ballot, a registered voter may make written application to their County Auditor for an absentee ballot. A written application for a mailed absentee ballot must be received by the voter’s County Auditor no later than 5:00 p.m. 10 days before the General Election, which is Tuesday, Nov. 3. That link is provided here at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf

Everyone in the state this year will be getting a request by mail this year, but those who don’t want to wait can fill out the request at the Secretary of State’s office link.

Although the voting process won’t be quite as traditional, it’s still important that people make sure their voice is heard and get out and vote.

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