Oct 5, 2021 - News

Iowa early voters face shorter timeline ahead of November elections

Illustration of a voting booth behind two concrete barriers.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Nov. 2 city and school elections mark the first time we'll see how a slew of new statewide voting rules affect Iowa's early voters.

Why it matters: Iowans have a shorter timeline to vote early and mail in absentee ballots under the major changes approved by Gov. Kim Reynolds in March.

What they're saying: Those in marginalized communities rely on early voting to ensure they can cast their ballots without barriers, said Joe Henry of LULAC Iowa.

  • In the Latino community, early voting helps families who may work long hours and can't go to the polls. It also gives them time to translate voting materials in light of Iowa's "English-only" law.

Henry also noted that LULAC can no longer help return absentee ballots for voters under the new rules.

  • The group sued the state in March, alleging undue burden on minority, elderly and disabled Iowans.
  • "This is a travesty," Henry said.

The other side: "Extensive outreach" to help Iowans vote is already happening, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said in a statement.

  • His office is sending 50,000 postcards to eligible voters who haven't yet registered to vote. They're partnering with Iowa colleges on voting ads, and encouraging high schoolers to vote.
  • Pate's office is also working with the Iowa Office of Latino Affairs to help Latino/Hispanic voters.

🗳 Here are the biggest changes you need to know before you vote:

  • Early voting is reduced from 29 days to 20. It starts Oct. 13.
  • Polls close on Election Day at 8pm, instead of 9pm.
  • You can request an absentee ballot now, but county auditors won't send them out until Oct. 13.
  • The request period has also been shortened. Auditors must receive ballot requests by Oct. 18.
  • Mail-in ballots must arrive at the county auditor's office by 8pm Nov. 2.
  • No one can return your absentee ballot for you, except for family members, household members or caregivers.

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