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Election officials say Iowa voters should return their ballots quickly to meet a new deadline

absentee ballot
Grant Gerlock
IPR file
Election officials are urging Iowans who received an absentee ballot in the mail to return their ballot as soon as possible.

Election officials are urging Iowans who received an absentee ballot in the mail to return their ballot as soon as possible. For many Iowans, it may be too late to return a ballot through the mail.

The state’s new voting laws say absentee ballots must be received by the voter’s county auditor by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. This year, that’s 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Adams County Auditor Becky Bissell said depending on where you live, it might be too late to put your ballot in the mail.

“In southwest Iowa, I would not recommend putting it in the mail, because our mail goes to Des Moines and then back to us,” Bissell said. “And so I do fear that it’s not going to get back to me in time if my voters were to be putting it into the mail now.”

Bissell said at this point, voters should bring their completed ballot to theircounty auditor’s office or county election office. In counties that have a designated ballot dropbox, voters can use that. The deadline for dropping off a ballot is 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

There is an exception to that deadline for uniformed and overseas citizens and people in the state address confidentiality program.

The secretary of state’s website allows voters to check if their absentee ballot has been received by their county auditor.

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature shortened the early voting period this year and moved up the deadline for voting by mail. Previously, a ballot had to be postmarked by the day before Election Day, and could arrive about a week after Election Day and still be counted. Now, if the ballot isn’t received by the county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, it won’t be counted.

Lawmakers also putnew restrictions on who can help a voter return their absentee ballot.

“I would recommend contacting your county auditor to go through those rules to make sure that it does qualify as being a delivery agent, and that they are following all the rules,” Bissell said.

In-person early voting is open through Nov. 1 at county auditor and election offices.

Iowans can also vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 2. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for this fall’s city and school elections and for all elections going forward. Click here to find your polling place.

Find more information about early in-person and mail voting here.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter