Oct 22, 2021 - Politics

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.

Catch up quick: Monday's deadline to submit a completed ballot request via mail was 11 days earlier than in prior years.

  • Applications can also now only be requested by the voter. Some auditors had previously mailed them without requests.

State of play: About 7,100 people in Polk County have requested absentee ballots, county auditor Jamie Fitzgerald said on Twitter Thursday.

  • Of those, 58% did not vote in the 2019 city/school elections. (The overall turnout in 2019 totaled more than 49,600 voters.)

What they're saying: School/city elections generally have low turnout, but polarizing issues like mask mandates could influence whether people whose ballot request was rejected will vote in person, said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford.

Meanwhile, county chair Sean Bagniewski told Axios that Democrats will reach out to those whose ballot requests were rejected, including Republicans.

  • At least 85 are registered Dems, 12 Republicans and the rest are unknown or unaffiliated, he said.
  • Republicans have not heard any complaints about the absentee requests. Most of their voters go to the polls rather than vote, county chair Gloria Mazza said.

What's next: County auditors are required to notify voters within 24 hours of when their absentee ballot request is rejected and outline the ways they may still participate in the election.

  • Early in-person voting at county auditor offices is open through Nov. 1. (Polk's is at 120 2nd Ave, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.)
  • Election Day voting will take place at your precinct, which you can find here.

Track your ballot, here.


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