A special election for an Iowa House seat in northwest Iowa today is a test for Iowa’s two major political parties.

Republicans hope to retain the seat, vacated when Republican Representative Jim Carlin of Sioux City won a special election last month to become a state senator. Democrats point to the results of that December race, as their Democratic candidate won the half of the state senate district that’s up for grabs today.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill says the election for Iowa House District 6 will be held in 10 precincts in the Sioux City area, “which includes parts of Morningside (neighborhood in Sioux City), Sergeant Bluff, Salix and Bronson, basically.”

The race has generated a good amount of “early” votes, according to the county auditor.

“On Saturday, the (Woodbury County) Courthouse and out at Morningside Bible Church where we had a satellite site, we had about 300 people vote, so that was pretty impressive,” Gill says. “It was definitely worth the effort.”

This is the first election in Iowa to be conducted under the new rules of the state’s new “voter verification” law.

“It’s a soft roll-out,” Gill says. “Folks will have to produce an ID, but if they don’t have one for this election, they’ll just have to simply sign an affidavit saying they are who they claim to be.”

The candidates competing for the House seat are Republican Jacob Bossman, an aide to Senator Chuck Grassley, and Democrat Rita DeJong, a retired principal. There’s been a flurry of activity in this three-week special election campaign, with spending from outside groups like Americans for Prosperity and campaigning in the district by most of the Democratic candidates for governor.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)