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Some Iowa Voters Will Receive Multiple Absentee Ballot Request Forms In The Mail This Year

Michael Leland
No matter where your absentee ballot request form comes from, make sure the return envelope is addressed to your county auditor. If you send in multiple forms, you'll still only get one ballot.

Iowans might receive multiple absentee ballot request forms from different sources ahead of the November election. Officials say don't worry about it, and it will likely become more common.

If you’re registered to vote in Iowa, you might be receiving multiple absentee ballot request forms from different sources ahead of the November election. That is not a problem, and it may be increasingly common as voting by mail is encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.

Registered voters who wish to vote by mail can fill out one of the request forms they receive, send it to their county auditor, and wait for a ballot to arrive after they start getting mailed out October 5.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz is president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, which represents local election officials from all 99 counties. She said even if a voter chooses to send in multiple absentee ballot requests, their county auditor will only send them one ballot.

“We have a system where every voter has its own unique voter file, and it has its own unique number,” Moritz said. “And when we start doing our absentee request forms, everybody’s given a number on their absentee request that goes into their voter file, and that’s scanned in. So when another absentee request comes in, when you go to load that into our system, it will show that it already has one.”

Iowa Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate is planning to send absentee ballot request forms to all active registered voters in the state at the end of August. Some county auditors have already sent the request forms, too.

Political parties may send the forms to voters, and other organizations can purchase voter lists and send request forms. Moritz said voters who want to use a form that doesn’t come from the county auditor or secretary of state should check that the return envelope is correctly addressed to their county auditor, and they can call their county auditor or secretary of state if they have concerns.

“Make sure that you’re getting your information from trusted resources—your election offices, your secretary of state—places that you know it’s coming from correctly and that it’s being mailed correctly,” Moritz said.

And she said Iowans can track their absentee ballot request on the secretary of state’s website after the request is received by their county auditor.

“So you can track when we receive your request form, to when I mail out your ballot, to when we get your ballot back,” Moritz said.

Some Iowans have also received absentee ballot request forms addressed to a previous resident of their home, or to a family member who died a long time ago. Moritz said it’s likely those are sent by outside organizations that don’t have to follow the same laws that elections officials do in continuously updating their voter lists.

Iowans can also find absentee ballot request forms on the secretary of state’s website to download, print and mail to their county auditor.

The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail is October 24.

Voting in person will also be an option this fall.

Click here to learn more about getting registered to vote.

Click here to learn more about voting by absentee ballot.

Click here to find your county auditor.

Courtesy Iowa Secretary of State
This is the State of Iowa's official absentee ballot request form.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter