Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s “distressed” that so many problems have popped up with this year’s absentee ballots. Ballots in several counties omitted certain races. New ballots have had to be printed. And a new web-based system for verifying voter registration that was supposed to come on-line in September is just now available to county officials this week. Secretary of State Chet Culver — the state’s Commissioner of Elections — has been criticized by republicans, and now the democrat governor is questioning the number of mistakes. “I’m pleased that we’re catching these problems early,” Vilsack says. “It is a little distressing that there are so many of them.” Late yesterday, Culver asked the Attorney General for advice on two questions about this year’s voting that have come up because of recently-enacted changes in voting laws.Vilsack says it’s important every one has a chance to vote, while at the same time ensuring the legitimacy of the voting in Iowa isn’t questioned. Vilsack says it’s good to fix things now rather than wait ’til after the election, when the national spotlight might shine again on Iowa if the election outcome is close. Secretary of State Chet Culver defends the actions of his office and the actions of county auditors throghout the state. Culver says there have been “a few human errors” that have been corrected. He says his office has a “laser-like focus” on ensuring the election runs smoothly, and a record number of Iowans vote. Culver says there are challenges, dealing with more than two million registered voters and the printing of thousands of ballots. Over 300-thousand Iowans have asked for an absentee ballot for this year’s election, more early voting requests than in any other election in Iowa history. Culver says “it’s really incredible.” Three-hundred-14 thousand Iowa voters have asked for absentee ballots, and over 100-thousand of those ballots have already been returned. Culver says there are still about two weeks left for Iowans to request an absentee ballot, so the new early-voting mark may go even higher. Iowans can also vote early by going to their county auditor’s office to cast a ballot. Several county auditors have also set up satellite voting stations, too, to let people vote early at places like libraries.
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