It’s the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November which means it’s Election Day.
While this is an “off-year” election — meaning there are no statewide or national races on the ballot — there are dozens of city elections being held today. Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro says 947 Iowa cities are holding municipal elections today.
“Each one’s going to be electing a mayor or council people and these elections will have a big effect on the lives of individuals in those cities,” Mauro says.
Voter turnout, though, will be low, in the range of 20 percent at the high end. Mauro says some cities will see fewer than 10 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot today. “I always encourage people to participate,” Mauro says, “and it’s unfortunate that we just can’t get the turnouts that we would like.”
One small Iowa town — Quimby in Cherokee County — had no candidates step forward for mayor or for the three open slots on the city council. That means the results of today’s election will be a surprise to the town’s residents — and to the winners.
“The ballot features only four empty lines and the words: ‘Write In, Write In, Write In, Write In,'” Mauro says, with a laugh. “There’s 368 residents in the town and I find that interesting because you don’t hear that too often, where they can’t fill any seats at all.”
With such sparse voting, ties are not uncommon. “And in Iowa, it’s crazy how you break a tie and that’s by drawing a name out of a hat,” Mauro says. “That is not that highly-unusual in some small cities where you have very, very low turnout.”
Iowans who asked for an absentee ballot for today’s election had to mail it sometime yesterday, so it had a postmark of Monday, November 2, 2009. You can drop absentee ballots off today, in person, at the county auditor’s office. Iowa’s secretary of state says procrastinators have another option, too.
“That’s one of the good things. Same-day voter registration will be in effect. You just need to make sure you bring the proper identifications with you,” Mauro says. “So if you forgot to register, that’s no excuse now. You can get out there and vote and participate.”
Many polling places will open at seven this morning, although in some small cities polling won’t start ’til noon. Check with your county auditor for polling information, as some city election polling places are not held in the same location as general election voting.