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Iowans Cast The First Votes Of The 2020 General Election

Iowans can vote in person at their county auditor's office or satellite location, or by mail, until Nov. 2. Or, they can vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Early voting began in Iowa Monday, and hundreds of Polk County residents chose to vote in person as early as possible.

Voters interviewed by Iowa Public Radio said the in-person early voting process went smoothly. Some said the reports of postal service delays and verbal and legal attacks on voting by mail across the country factored into their decision to vote in person during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The political climate has been a little bit shaky in the last four years, and just all the misinformation and everything, I’m just wanting to make sure, 100 percent, that I come into the exact office and get it filled out today, on the first day, just to make sure that my voice is heard,” said Tiffany Flory, who voted at the Polk County Election Office in downtown Des Moines Monday morning.

She said she doesn’t have concerns about the process of voting by mail, but she’s noticed it’s been taking longer for packages to be delivered to her home.

Election and postal system officials in Iowa say they’re confident in the ability of the postal service to deliver election mail in a timely manner, but they’re encouraging voters to send all election mail two weeks ahead of deadlines.

Flory said she waited 5 to 10 minutes to vote, and she didn’t have any issues with the process.

“I’m so happy that I saw so many people there, and it makes me proud that so many people wanted to go and vote today,” Flory said.

Regina Whitehead said she voted Monday because she “just wanted to get it done.”

She says she’s feeling confident about the election system and about her vote being counted.

“There’s nothing wrong with our system,” Whitehead said. “It’s always been a just, valid system. And I really hate the fact that it’s being dragged down.”

Whitehead pointed out that voter fraud and intimidation are very rare.

“I feel confident about the election and about my vote being counted.”

Whitehead said not much was different this year about her voting process other than coronavirus-related precautions and the voter ID requirement that now applies to early voting.

David Johnson said concerns about mail in voting and the election system were part of his decision to vote early in person.

“Just to make sure our vote would indeed count,” Johnson said. “Just to make sure there wouldn’t be any potential argument as far as the legitimacy of it.”

Johnson described what led him to worry about that.

“All of the noise that you’ve heard, from especially the Republican side, as far as votes being a sham, it’s illegitimate and so forth, and it will be rigged if the current occupant of the White House doesn’t win,” Johnson said, referencing comments by President Trump. “And it’s very frustrating to see our democracy teetering on the brink, so to speak, as far as not trusting our elections.”

Johnson said his voting process went well, and that he felt safe with the coronavirus precautions taken at the Polk County Election Office.

Iowans can vote early in person or by mail through Nov. 2, or they can vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Election officials recommend that voters check their county auditor’s website or call the office to get up-to-date information about early voting sites and polling places. Many locations have changed because of coronavirus concerns.

County auditors started mailing absentee ballots Monday to voters who requested them. Your absentee ballot request must be received by your county auditor by Oct. 24.

This story was updated at 11:55 a.m. on Oct. 7 to specify early voting takes place at the Polk County Election Office, rather than the Polk County Auditor's Office.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter