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More than 100 Polk County absentee ballot requests rejected

Illustration of a hand making a stopping motion coming out of a USPS mailbox
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At least 130 Polk County voters submitted absentee ballot requests via mail after Monday's 5pm deadline, according to a county auditor's report provided to Axios by Polk County Democrats.

Why it matters: The Nov. 2 elections mark the first time voters head to the polls since Gov. Kim Reynolds signed new voting rules into law.

  • Shorter timeframes and far more restrictive rules could make it harder for communities of color, individuals with disabilities and elderly voters to cast ballots, groups like LULAC Iowa argue.
Linh Ta
Oct 22, 2021 - News

What the Midwest Regional Rail Plan could mean for Des Moines travel

Midwest train map
Image: Federal Railroad Administration

A newly released plan from the Federal Railroad Administration would allow Des Moines residents to travel via train to Chicago or Omaha, Nebraska.

Why it matters: Traveling from Des Moines to other states without a car isn't easy.

  • This dream proposal by the federal transportation agency helps take us a step closer to better commutes.

Axios Des Moines drives a DART bus at the Iowa State Fairgrounds

A photo of Linh Ta and Jason Clayworth in front of  a DART bus at the fairgrounds. Photo courtesy of DART
Linh and Jason drive a DART bus at the fairgrounds! Photo courtsey of DART

DART challenged us to test our abilities and navigate a 40-foot bus through an obstacle course at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Thursday.

Why it matters: You could give the bus a spin yourself.

  • DART is trying to hire about 35 more drivers and is offering up to $3,000 sign-on incentives. Starting wages range between $17-25/hour.

Details: Try it out Friday 1-5pm and Saturday 8-10:30am at the fairgrounds. (Enter through the gates off University Ave.)

  • Bring your license. Drivers must be at least 21.

💬 Our thought bubble: We had so much fun, but may need a little more training...

A photo of Linh Ta driving a bus.
Oopsie. Jason hit 12 cones. Linh hit two, but one got caught and dragged under the bus. Who wins? Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
Linh Ta
Oct 22, 2021 - Politics

Iowa's second proposed redistricting map released

Data: Iowa Legislature; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Iowa's second round of proposed redistricting maps are out and analysts say Republicans should feel more agreeable toward them than the first ones they rejected earlier this month.

Why it matters: The map legislators ultimately choose will determine the distribution of political power at the legislative and Congressional levels for the next 10 years.

  • And if these don't pass — legislators will move on to a third round of map proposals that a Republican-dominated Legislature can amend.
Linh Ta
Oct 21, 2021 - News

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits John Deere strikers

Tom Vilsack meets with a John Deere striker.
Dennis Green (left), a UAW member, speaks with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the picket line, Oct. 20. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said he's willing to speak with Deere & Co.'s CEO to make sure he "understands and appreciates" the importance of resolving the historic strike happening at its factories.

Driving the news: Vilsack briefly visited the picket line at the John Deere factory in Ankeny Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's added layer of pressure for Deere leaders to offer a contract union leaders can agree with — this time, from the Biden administration.

Des Moines office rental prices see dramatic drop

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Office rental asking prices in downtown Des Moines this year fell by more than 35% from pre-pandemic levels, according to the most recent data from CBRE.

  • It was $13.99 per square foot in the first quarter of this year, down from $21.62 in 2019, per the commercial real estate firm's data.

Why it matters: The lower prices could help position DSM as an attractive place for business growth, said Greg Edwards, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.

  • Yes, but: It could also dent the tax base and make local governments struggle.
Linh Ta
Oct 21, 2021 - Food and Drink

Des Moines' East Village is getting a new bar for vinyl listening

The former location of Dobre at 503 E Locust St. in Des Moines.
Do Not Disturb is moving into the former location of Dobre at 503 E Locust St, Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

A new, intimate cocktail bar is opening in the East Village this holiday season.

  • Do Not Disturb is a chill hangout space where you can listen to vinyl all nightlong, said Nick Tillinghast, a partner with Des Moines Does Things. It's inspired by Japanese listening bars.

PDM Precast plans $10 million expansion in Des Moines

A photo of PDM Precast in Des Moines.
PDM Precast plans a $10 million expansion at this site on DSM's southeast side next year. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

PDM Precast will launch a $10 million expansion on Des Moines' southeast side next spring, Matt McAllister, the company's chief administrative officer, told Axios this week.

Why it matters: It's another indication that Des Moines' "economic revitalization and goods movement" is on the right path.