More Than 300 Linn County Voters Mistakenly Mail In Sample Ballots

Oct 5, 2018

Some Linn County voters are still confused about the sample ballots they received. More than 300 voters have mailed them back with their candidates marked off.

The Linn County Auditor’s Office sent out the educational ballots, watermarked with the word ‘sample’, to every household in the county. They’re meant to inform voters on their choices and on recent changes to state elections law. Instead, dozens mailed them back as if they were real ballots.

The office has mailed letters to those voters explaining the confusion. Forty voters who sent in sample ballots did not include a return address, leaving officials with no way to contact them.

Even with the confusion, Auditor Joel Miller thinks more voters benefitted than not.

“We’ve had over 3,000 additional absentee ballot requests that we probably wouldn’t see had we not sent that mailer out," Miller said. "So lots of people followed the instructions and a very few, less than a percent, did not follow the instructions.”

Some party activists worry the mix-up, amid broader changes and legal challenges to the state's voter ID law, could be another factor that discourages voters from turning out. But Miller says the sample ballots are worth it.

“I will actually plan on lobbying legislators to make it a requirement. Because I think there’s way more good that comes out of this than harm," Miller said. "And people not reading instructions is not…is not anything new.”

The deadline to request an absent ballot is 5pm on October 27th, which is also the last day to pre-register to vote. Iowa residents can also register to vote at the polls on Election Day, which is November 6th.