New Iowa election laws: What you need to know

Election

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Election season will be underway in less than a month in Siouxland, but new election laws mean registered voters have less time to send in their absentee ballots.

Voters can begin requesting an absentee ballot form 70 days before Election Day and can start mailing their completed ballot 20 days prior to the election. 

Pat Gill is the Woodbury County Commissioner of Elections. He said new regulations prohibit his office from mailing absentee ballot request forms unless voters ask for the form.

“I am very concerned about the impact on voter turnout,” Gill said. “Folks for years have just expected that they’re going to get a request form in the mail, that they can just sign it, mail it back to us, and we would mail them a ballot. It’s really extended the process and they shortened the period of time that folks can participate.”

In-person absentee voting is available on Oct. 13 at the Auditor’s Office in the Woodbury County Courthouse. Voters can request the ballot, fill it out, and turn it in all in one day.

Absentee ballots now must arrive at the Auditor’s Office before the polls close at 8 p.m. on election day. Regulations limit the county to one ballot drop-off box, which is available in the alley behind the courthouse. 

Restrictions also limit who can return an absentee ballot. The ballot must be returned by an immediate family member or someone who lives with the voter if the voter doesn’t return it. There’s additional paperwork for a designated person to return the ballot for a disabled voter.

“It is indeed frustrating because the voters of Woodbury County have grown to appreciate the efforts that we make to allow them to participate in these elections.” Gill said. “The reaction that we’ve been getting on the phone and from just talking to folks is they’re not happy with these new restrictions.”

Oct. 15 is the last day an absentee ballot request form can be accepted. Registered voters should receive a letter in the mail next week from the Woodbury County Commissioner of Elections with more information.

Click here to fill out an absentee ballot request form.

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