Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate estimates the governor’s order on felon voting rights may impact about 35,000 Iowans. Pate says the Department of Corrections has given his office a list of Iowans with felony convictions who are covered by the governor’s order and can become a registered voter.
“We will be cross checking to make sure as best we can that they still living here, that they’re still alive and that they’re going to be successful in that endeavor,” Pate said. “We’ll be giving the county auditors, before Election Day, a current list in regards to that as well and we’ll work with the various outreach groups to make sure they have the tools to communicate with these felons that they do have the right to vote now.”
However, the updated list Pate’s office will provide the 99 county auditors will not include a last known address.
“But the auditors will definitely know that ‘Joe Smith’ with a certain Social Security number has been cleared and should be able to vote,” Pate said.
Earlier estimates suggested as many as 60,000 Iowans could be enfranchised by Governor Reynolds’ action, but Pate says it appears many paroled felons aready became eligible to vote between 2005 and 2010. That’s when Governor Tom Vilsack and then Governor Chet Culver had an executive order in place that automatically restored voting rights upon completion of a felon’s sentence.
The two million absentee ballot request forms Pate’s office sent active Iowa voters started showing up in mailboxes on Saturday. A voter may check online to see when their county auditor received the request form, when the auditor mails the voter a ballot and when the auditor gets that ballot back in his or her office.
“We were probably one of the first states that were doing that and more states are doing it. I think it’s a great tool. It’s always disturbed me when people say: ‘How do I know my vote counted?’ Well, you can track it,” Pate says. “…You can go right onto our Secretary of State’s website and you’ll put your personal information in, it’ll tell you where it’s at.”
Here’s a link to the absentee ballot tracker on the secretary of state’s website.