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Iowa's June Primary Still On, Secretary Of State Encourages Voting From Home

John Pemble
IPR file
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office is mailing about 2 million absentee ballot request forms to active registered voters.";

Early voting begins Thursday for Iowa’s June 2 primary election. Election officials are encouraging Iowans to vote from home to reduce the risk of spreading the new coronavirus. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office is mailing about 2 million absentee ballot request forms to active registered voters.

“We’re not doing what you call vote-by-mail where everyone just gets mailed a blank ballot, like a blank check,” Pate says. “What we’re doing is giving people an opportunity to request their ballot.”

The forms should be arriving in mailboxes next week. Pate says he does not foresee a situation where he would need to change the June 2 primary date because of COVID-19. 

The form will ask voters to put their drivers’ license number on the form or their voter ID number if they don’t have a drivers’ license. If a voter has lost their voter ID card, Pate says they should reach out to their county auditor.

“The track we’re on has enough options available that we’re confident we can still do it on that date,” Pate says.

In addition to traditional voting on June 2, polling places will offer curbside voting and there will be face shields and social distancing markers. Poll workers will also be wearing gloves.

Iowans need to register with a political party to vote in a primary election. No-party voters can request a Republican or Democratic ballot but their registrations will change to that political party.

Iowa already had it’s presidential nominating caucuses earlier this year but there are still high-profile primary elections on the ballot. For example, Democrats have five choices to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in November. Republicans have primary races in all four of Iowa’s congressional races.

Pate says Iowans should keep an eye out for the absentee ballot request form in their mailboxes but if someone does not receive one they should contact their county auditor or visit http://voterready.iowa.gov to download the form.

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.