Welcome to our annual Election Edition! You cannot turn on the TV or radio this year without hearing about the elections. Unfortunately, not much of that coverage tells you much about the how and why of voting, just the who is running. Knowing the basics of voting now will take away some of the stress you might feel about voting - and give you more time to decide which candidates will best represent you in the White House, Congress, State Legislature, and county courthouse.
Inside this issue you'll hear from two county auditors about why its important to vote, and why registering to vote early can save time and make sure your vote is counted. You'll find important timelines, opportunities to help others get out the vote, information on a special election in the Davenport area, and more in this issue of infoNET.
So read on and get ready to Make Your Mark on (or before) Tuesday, November 8, 2016!
First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation for all of the hard work that ID Action does on behalf of persons with disabilities. In regards to my office and the process of voting; they continue to respect, protect, and insure that there is a fair process.
When I was first elected to my position in 2008, I met Rik Shannon from ID Action and he left a strong impression on me about the vital role that I, as a Commissioner of Elections, would play in regards to elections in Scott County; so much so that my vision statement says:
Treat every voter as a VIP
Voting with accessibility Independently & Privately
I would like to encourage all of those that are guardians, caregivers, as well as consumers to make sure that you know your rights, and that you continue to research and inspire those around you to utilize one of the most important rights that we have been given, democracy and the right to vote.
Listed on the Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.iowa.org is a list of all of the County Auditors along with their phone numbers. Should you have any questions or need to research or locate a polling location this is where you would be able to reach out, and get your answers. While it is sometimes much easier to request or do an in person early vote, many of us enjoy and utilize the opportunity given to actually go to the polls on Election Day! I for one, find it to be a great experience. An experience that shows, “My Vote Counts” and I invested the time to show up. While of course, your absentee ballot will count, there is nothing like going to the polls and taking advantage of the feelings of all those around you, recognizing their right to select who will represent, advocate, and protect them. This year is a very important election year. It is the 2016 Presidential year. While I believe all elections are important, typically more people vote in this election than any other year.
Please take the opportunity to look at who will be on your ballot and make sure that you either vote by absentee or that you get out to the polls. Make sure, “Your Voice is Heard”.
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
- President John Quincy Adams -
Since the implementation of Election Day registration in 2008, an increasing number of Iowans have taken advantage of its convenience, and a question many voters ask is, “Why register early? I can do it on Election Day.”
Like other Iowa county auditors, I take pride in registering voters and administering elections in a state that has a tradition of fair and impartial elections. I encourage eligible Iowans to preregister for the presidential election, if possible, and to take advantage of registering at the polls, if necessary.
There are benefits in registering early for the November 8 election. First, it’s relatively easy; a voter can fill out a Voter Registration form, available at county auditors’ offices, or download a fillable voter registration form. Another easy option is the new online voter registration system from the Iowa Secretary of State.
Another benefit of registering early is a faster check-in at the polls. Even with the Precinct Atlas computerized register used in 60 counties, registering at the polls will take a few extra minutes. In counties that still process votes on paper, this can take more than ten minutes.
A voter registering on Election Day may encounter risks that would be avoided by registering early, due mainly to the higher standards for proof of identity and residency required for Election Day registration. Problems can include an expired driver’s license or other photo ID or a driver’s license with an old address, requiring a separate proof of residence. Another problem can occur when a voter registers at an address that is not currently in the county auditor’s address library. Another is the need for a voter to cast a provisional ballot when the voter lacks proper proof, or the voter’s eligibility is in question.
Some voters can face a major issue if their names are on the statewide list of felons. Because of inaccuracies in this list, some voters have been improperly disenfranchised and prevented from voting. Others have been prosecuted for voting in counties that don’t use the Precinct Atlas computerized register.
Registering on or before Saturday, October 29th will help to avoid problems and better assure an eligible voter his or her vote will count in the 2016 presidential election. You can find out more about Election Day voting - including videos on registering to vote - on the Secretary of State's website.
Thursday, September 29 - Absentee Ballots Ready.
Absentee ballots are available for in-person voting at county auditors offices, and will be mailed to those who request one to be mailed to their home. This date marks the beginning of "early voting" in Iowa.
Monday, October 24 - Worry-Free Postmark Date.
If you decide to vote by mail, you should try to get your completed ballot mailed by this date. Absentee ballots that are mailed by this date will have enough time to be delivered before Election Day, and be counted. While you have until November 7 to get these in the mail, you don't want to wait. Some post offices do not postmark ballots, so auditors have no way of knowing if ballots coming in on or after Election Day were mailed on time. Moral of the story - plan ahead and give yourself enough time to make sure it's in the mail early.
Saturday, October 29 - Voter Pre-Registration Deadline.
Iowans can register to vote at the polls, but that takes time and you have to remember to bring proof of identity and proof of where you live. If you don't have those, you have to find a registered voter in your precinct that is willing to vouch for you. You can avoid the hassle by pre-registering to vote. You have until 5 p.m. on this date to pre-register.
Friday, November 4 - Absentee Ballot by Mail Request Deadline.
If you wish to vote by mail, you have until 5 p.m. on this date to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Again, do not wait until this date if you think that getting to the polls on Election Day will be tough. This leaves only three days for the auditor to send you the ballot, the post office to process and deliver it, and you tp complete it and mail it back.
Saturday, November 5 - County Auditors’ Offices Open.
If you have trouble getting to your auditor's office during the work day, Iowa law requires each county auditor's office be open for at least 8 hours on the Saturday before the election. Auditor staff will be available to assist you with questions, and will continue to offer in-person absentee ballot voting.
Monday, November 7 – Absentee Ballot In-Person Deadline.
This is the last day to request and vote an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office.
Tuesday, November 8 – ELECTION DAY!
Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. You must vote at your correct polling location. If you have not yet mailed your absentee ballot, you can deliver it to the county auditor until 9 p.m.
Some states elect their judges, and others (like Iowa) have what is called a "retention election." That is, Iowans vote on whether to keep or "fire" judges from their courthouses. This year you will have the chance to vote for or against keeping the judges in your area.
Iowa voters can find information about the professional qualifications and background of every judge on the ballot easily.
The 2016 general election will be here before we know it, and it is time to start preparing now. ID Action offers a voter training to inform and educate Iowans with disabilities about the election process. The training focuses on assisting participants to overcome barriers to voting and provides the opportunity to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and become comfortable with Iowa’s election equipment.
ID Action is looking for hosts for a few more voter trainings. As the host, all you need to do is find the location and send out the invites. ID Action staff will provide the training and materials you need to be prepared to vote in November. We still have openings for trainings in October in the following locations:
If you are interested in hosting a training in your community, please contact ID Action at 866-432-2846 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are outside of these areas of the state and would like to host a training, please contact us for availability.
Senator Joe Seng died on September 16 after a long battle with brain cancer. Dr. Seng was a well-known veterinarian who represented Davenport and the Southern part of Scott County along the Mississippi River as a Senator since 2002. Before that he served for two years in the Iowa House of Representatives. Dr. Seng chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee for most of his legislative career, and was a music lover, often seen at fundraisers and legislative events playing the piano or his accordian.
Dr. Seng was in the middle of his four-year Senate term, and was not up for re-election this year. Since ballots are being printed now for the November election, the Governor called a special election for Tuesday, December 27. We do not yet know who will run for this seat, so stay tuned for more information if you live in this area.
It is clear that the dust is settling some on Medicaid managed care, but for many there are still unanswered questions and uncertainty about services. Hundreds of Iowans still come to meetings with concerns, and managed care companies continue to say they are working through the transition as best they can. It's clear it will be an issue with many organizations and legislators when the 2017 legislative session begins.
If you want to make sure your voice is heard - either with stories of success or struggle with the new managed care system - you still have many opportuntiies to let legislators and Medicaid officials know.