Absentee voting begins this week for city and school elections
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Dickinson County voters will be heading to the polls in less than a month, but those aiming to do their civic duty a little early can cast their vote starting this week. Absentee voting for the Nov. 2 city and school board elections opens Oct. 13 and runs through Nov. 1, according to Dickinson County Elections Clerk Jordan Moyer. Requests for the absentee ballots have been open for some time now, but county auditors could only mail the ballots out starting Oct. 13.
Moyer said absentee voters are welcome to once again stop in at the Dickinson County Auditor's Office to fill out an absentee ballot. Last year, the county had moved absentee voting out of the courthouse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Votes were cast inside the former Paul's Body Shop just southeast of the courthouse — the county currently owns all three lots along the north side of that block.
Requesting and returning absentee ballots
Absentee voting by mail will be an option for voters Oct. 13-18. Moyer noted that window was once limited to 11 days prior to the election but a legislative change expanded it to 15 days. However, the auditor's office will only send voters an absentee ballot if the voter has submitted an absentee ballot request form. The forms are available through the Dickinson County Auditor's website (https://dickinsoncountyiowa.gov/auditor-elections/). Voters must be sure to both sign and date the request form, Moyer said, and no information on the form — save for the date of the election and the type of election — can be pre-filled for voters.
While the auditor's office can't send unsolicited absentee request forms, Moyer pointed out candidates, political groups and other private organizations may, but they too are not to pre-fill information on the request form for voters.
"There are those political parties that sent them pre-filled, but the legislation did change that to where that is not allowed," Moyer said. "So, if any of them are pre-filled, we will just call the voter and ask that they fill out a new request."
All absentee ballots for the Nov. 2 election must be received by the Dickinson County Auditor's Office by 8 p.m. on Election Night in order to be considered valid.
"Postmarks or barcodes printed on the envelopes will no longer make a ballot received after Election Day valid, except for those ballots from participants that are in the Safe at Home program received by the Secretary of State's Office in time to be transmitted by us by noon on the Monday following the Election," Moyer said, noting similar provisions exist for U.S. citizens in uniform or living overseas.
Moyer said the law also limits who may return a voter's completed absentee ballot. She said the ballots can be returned by a member of the voter's household — an immediate family member for example. Special election officials who deliver ballots to residents of health care facilities or delivery agents for individuals with disabilities such as blindness may do so as well, Moyer said.
Registering to vote
The deadline to preregister as a voter for the upcoming election is Oct. 18, Moyer said. Voters may print off a registration form from the Dickinson County Auditor's website or register online through the Iowa Secretary of State's website. Moyer said voters using the online option will need an Iowa driver's license or non-operator ID to complete the process. Voters can also register in person at the local auditor's office.
Those who miss the deadline can still register to vote on Election Day. Moyer said proof of identity and proof of residency will be required to register at the polls.
"If your driver's license has your correct address and who you are on there, you can use that as both forms of identification," Moyer said.
Voting locations for next month's elections will largely be unchanged from those during the 2020 presidential and gubernatorial races – one location will move about 200 feet from the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park to the Hedberg Theatre near the Iowa Maritime Museum. Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Polling locations for Nov. 2 elections:
Precinct 1 — Lake Park Community Center, 903 South Market St. in Lake Park
Precincts 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 14 and 15 — Dickinson County Expo Building, 1600 15th St. in Spirit Lake
Precincts 5 and 11 — Hedberg Theater (connected to the Iowa Maritime Museum) 243 West Broadway St. in Arnolds Park
Precincts 6 and 7 — Terril Memorial Building, 115 North State St. in Terril
Precincts 8, 9 and 10 — Milford Community Building (east room), 806 N Ave. in Milford