The majority of votes for today’s Primary Election have already been cast by absentee ballot and there’s been a huge shift in party affiliation.
For the first time in years, independent or “no party” voters are no longer the largest voting block in the state. Independents have dropped to third behind Democrats and Republicans.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be analyzing this one to figure it all out, but it was pretty even,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says. “Republicans increased by about 36,000 and the Democrats increased by about 31,000 of new registered voters.”
In the fourth congressional district, where Congressman Steve King faces a primary challenge, more than 12,000 residents joined the ranks of Republicans in order to vote in the primary.
In the third congressional district, Democrats gained bout 9000 and Republicans about 8500. In the second district, where Republicans have a competitive congressional primary, Republican voter rolls grew by more than 9000. And, in the first congressional district, Republicans gained about 11,700 and Democrats gained roughly 12,000 voters.
Pate mailed an absentee ballot request form to every registered voter in the state, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at Primary Day polling places. Pate advises voters to check with their county auditor or go online to www.voterready.iowa.gov to confirm their polling place, as many counties have consolidated sites. Pate says many auditors were able to put polling sites in schools.
“Partly because they’re closed. You know, there are no classes and they were accessible,” Pate says. “They have more options and flexibility for social distancing, also parking is available and it’s handicapped acceptable, so it’s kind of the gold standard. It’s got everything you would want in a perfect polling location.”
The polls are open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. That’s the curfew time in Polk County, Scott County and Council Bluffs. Pate’s office has advised county officials that traveling home after voting is not a violation of curfews.
By Monday morning, 77% of the absentee ballots requested had been received by county auditors. That’s nearly 376,000 ballots and more are expected to be delivered today as some voters waited until Monday to mail their ballot in.
“Definitely a record breaker,” Pate says in predicting turnout.
Iowans who got an absentee ballot but failed to fill it out and mail it on time have two options. They can fill it out and drop it off at their county auditor’s office before 9 p.m. or they can take the unused ballot to their voting precinct, hand it over to a poll worker, and get a new ballot to vote at the precinct.