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INFONET 2020: Issue #6

Issue 6, April 28, 2020

Articles in This Issue:


PRIMARY ELECTION AHEAD: Plan to #VoteSafeIowa

COVID-19 is in the news every day.  It's on every news channel. Iowa's Governor Kim Reynolds gives her updates every morning and President Donald Trump gives his updates every afternoon.  With all that is going on, here is a reminder - Iowans will go to the polls in a month! That's right, the Iowa Primary Election is coming up quickly on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

This issue of infoNET is dedicated to information about voting in the new COVID-19 social distancing world (staying six feet apart).  We want to encourage you to think ahead and prepare for this vote, and strongly consider voting by mail. Iowa's Secreatary of State Paul Pate has mailed every registered Iowa voter an absentee ballot request form.  Look for it in the mail, and read on about how to vote by mail and avoid long lines (and germs) at the polls.

 

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A MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY OF STATE PAUL PATE: VOTE SAFE IOWA!

For the June 2 Primary Election, my office has launched the “Vote Safe Iowa” initiative to encourage Iowans to vote absentee-by-mail. Beginning this week, all active registered voters will receive a mailing from my office that includes an absentee ballot request form. If you follow the directions in the mailing, fill out your absentee ballot request form and drop it in the mail, your County Auditor will send you an absentee ballot. Make sure you send your request in as soon as possible, because it must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22. 

If you would still like to vote in-person, there are options available, but they may be limited. County Auditors will begin offering in-person absentee voting on Monday, May 4. All counties will have polling places open on Election Day, but your polling place may have changed. Curbside voting is an option for both in-person absentee and election day voters. Please reach out to your County Auditor if you are interested in voting in-person either before or on Election Day, particularly if you want to take advantage of curbside voting. 

To learn more about voting with disabilities, please visit our website: https://sos.iowa.gov/disabilities.html

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VOTING BY MAIL IS EASY!

We always talk about getting out to vote, but this year, staying in to vote is the safest and easiest way to make your mark.  There are three steps to voting by mail:

  • Step 1:  Request a Ballot.  

To vote by mail, you must fill out a ballot request form.  This is what the Secretary of State has mailed to all registered Iowa voters.  Look for it in your mail in the coming days.  Fill out the form, sign it, and put it in the mail.  Remember, this is just your request for a ballot, not the actual ballot.  Click here for a video that shows how you do this.  The last day to request a ballot is Friday, May 22, 2020.

  • Step 2:  Vote your Ballot.

Watch for your ballot to come in the mail. You can track your ballot here.  Once you receive the ballot, make sure you keep all the envelopes included in the mailing. You will need to vote on the ballot with a pencil or pen, then put the ballot into the privacy envelope, sign the privacy envelope, then put the envelope in the mailing envelope. Having two envelopes makes sure your vote is private and secure.  If you need assistance to fill out your ballot, you can ask someone you trust to do it. Just remember, the votes are yours and the decision about who to vote for is yours as well.  Helpers are only allowed to assist to make marks, not make decisions (election fraud is a felony).  

  • Mail your Ballot.

Do not wait too long to fill out your ballot, you want to make sure it counts. It must be received by the post office by Monday, June 1.   So put your ballot in the mail as soon as you can.  Again, no postage needed.  Two things to note.  If you lose your ballot, call your county auditor as soon as possible (you can find them in the blue pages of your phone book). They will help figure out next steps.  If you decide to go to the polls on election day, you will need to bring your absentee ballot with you. If you have any questions, your auditor is the best place to start.

An easy how-to guide is available on the Secretary of State's website here.  No one knows how long COVID-19 will hang around or when a treatment and vaccine will be found.  Voting is important, so plan ahead and consider voting by mail!  Polls may be open only for a limited time on Election Day, so make sure your vote counts.  Vote from home by mail and encourage others to do the same via social media to #VoteSafeIowa and #VotebyMail!

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PRIMARY ELECTION INFORMATION

Iowa voters will go to the polls on June 2 to vote in the Republican primary or Democratic primary.  Voters may only vote one ballot; you must be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary and a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary. If you are an Independent or want to switch parties to vote in the other primary, you can do so before the election, at the polls on June 2, or at the time you request your mail-in ballot

Here are a few quick facts that may be of interest this year:

  • Three state legislators are running for Congress this year: Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids).  Sen. Miller-Meeks is in the middle of a two-year Senate term, so she will not resign from that seat unless she wins the election in November for Congress; Rep. Hinson and Sen. Feenstra are retiring from the legislature.

  • Three former state legislators are looking for a comeback:  former Sen. Chris Brase (D-Muscatine) and former Sen. Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) are running again for the Senate and former House Majority Leader Brent Siegrist (R-Council Bluffs) is running again for the House.

  • Seven Republican State Senators are not running again this year:  Sen. Jerry Behn (R-Boone), Sen. Michael Breitbach (R-Strawberry Point), Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), Sen. Tom Greene (R-Burlington), Sen. Tim Kapucian (R-Keystone), Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines), and Sen. Mark Segebart (R-Vail).  There are no Democratic Senator retirements this year.

  • Eight Republican and two Democratic State Representatives are not running again this year:  Rep. Gary Carlson (R-Muscatine), Rep. Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville), Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-Urbandale), Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs), Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids), Rep. Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia), Rep. Tim Kacena (D-Sioux City), Rep. Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown), Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake), and Rep. Louis Zumbach (R-Coggon).

People running for office this year will face challenges campaigning in a social distancing world.  Do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call them, or send an email asking them for more information about themselves.  They want your vote, so they will probably respond quickly.  Just reading the newspaper or doing some google searches will help you get to know them better.  Remember, a primary is about picking your party's candidate to run in the November General Election against the other party's candidate.  

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WHO IS RUNNING IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY?

You can find out more information about the candidates through a google search, visiting their campaign websites, or contacting them. All contact information for primary candidates is available here.  

US SENATE
Five Democrats want to be the person to run against US Senator Joni Ernst.  Voters will pick between:

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Depending on where you live, there may or may not be a primary for US Representative.  A map of congressional districts can be found here.

  • US Rep. Abby Finkenauer, no primary opponent for District 1 (www.abbyfinkenauer.com
  • Rita Hart, farmer and former State Senator does not have a primary opponent for District 2, which is an open seat after US Rep. Dave Loebsack decided to retire  (www.ritahart.com)
  • US Rep. Cindy Axne, no primary oponent for DIstrict 3 (www.cindyaxneforcongress.com)
  • J.D. Scholten, former pro baseball player and lawyer is running unopposed in the primary for District 4 (www.scholten4iowa.com)

STATE SENATE
Senators are elected to four-year terms, so only half are up for re-election this year (those in even numbered districts).  Below we will only focus on those races where there is two or more people running in the primary.  SD stands for "Senate District" - you can see a map of all Iowa Senate Districts here.

  • SD 22: Tricia Gavin, Michael Libbie, Sarah Trone Garriott (open seat - Sen. Charles Schneider retired)
  • SD 24: Cynthia Oppedal Paschen, Keith Puntenney (open seat - Sen. Jerry Behn retired)
  • SD 38: Alvin Aragon, Ivy Schuster (open seat - Sen. Tim Kapucian retired)
  • SD 44: Tom Courtney, Rex Troute, Kevin Warth (open seat - Sen. Tom Greene retired)

STATE HOUSE
All 100 of Iowa's State Representatives are up for election this year.  Below we will only focus on those races where there is two or more people running in the primary.  HD stands for "House District" - you can see a map of all Iowa House Districts here.

  • HD 11: James Eliason, Sara Huddleston 
  • HD 25: Ryan Marquardt, Caleb Short
  • HD 35: Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, Calvetta Williams
  • HD 54: Kai Trevor Brost, Karen Koenig
  • HD 65: Rep. Liz Bennett, Harry Foster
  • HD 72: John Anderson, Christina Blackcloud
  • HD 85: Rep. Vicki Lensing, Christina Bohannan
  • HD 100: Rep. Chuck Isenhart, Grant Davis

Even if a candidate is unopposed, you will stay have the option to vote for them or write in another name.  However, you can only get one ballot  - Democratic or Republican - on June 2.

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WHO'S RUNNING IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY?

You can find out more information about the candidates through a google search, visiting their campaign websites, or contacting them. All contact information for primary candidates is available here

US SENATE
US Senator Joni Ernst is running unopposed in the Republican primary, so she will be the party's nominee in November.

US HOUSE
Depending on where you live, there may or may not be a primary for US Representative.  A map of congressional districts can be found here.

  • Two individuals are running to be the Republican nominee in Congressional District 1:
  • Five people are running to be the Republican nominee in Congressional District 2:
  • Two people want the Republican nomination for Congressional District 3:
    • Bill Schafer, retired Army veteran (no website, but you can read more here)
    • David Young, former US Congressman and former chief of staff for Sen. Grassley (youngforiowa.com)
  • Five people will challenge an existing Republican US Representatives in Iowa's Congressional District 4:

 STATE SENATE
Senators are elected to four-year terms, so only half are up for re-election this year (those in even numbered districts). Below we will only focus on those races where there is two or more people running in the primary.  SD stands for "Senate District" - you can see a map of all Iowa Senate Districts here.

  • SD 6: Heath Hansen, Craig Williams
  • SD 12: Sen. Mark Costello, Richard Crouch
  • SD 22: Scott Cirksena, Porsha Hart
  • SD 24: Chad Behn, Joshua Dyer, Jesse Greene, Todd Rasmussen
  • SD 38: Bruce Adams, Garrett Dozark, Dawn Driscoll
  • SD 42: Nancy Amos, Jeff Reichman, 
  • SD 44: Tim Goodwin, Matthew Rinker

STATE HOUSE
All 100 of Iowa's State Representatives are up for election this year.  Below we will only focus on those races where there is two or more people running in the primary.  HD stands for "House District" - you can see a map of all Iowa House Districts here.

  • HD 3: Dennis Bush, Lynn Evans, Mark McHugh
  • HD 23: Rep. David Sieck, Charlotte Dunnett
  • HD 38: Garrett Gobble, Brett Nelson
  • HD 40: Jon Coen, Eric South
  • HD 42: Jacqueline Riekena, Aaron Sewell
  • HD 44: Paul Knupp, Dave Lorenzen
  • HD 52: Craig Clark, Charley Thomson
  • HD 60: Ryan Howard, Colleen Tierney
  • HD 95: Phil High, Charlie McClintock

Even if a candidate is unopposed, you will stay have the option to vote for them or write in another name.  However, you can only get one ballot  - Democratic or Republican - on June 2.

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NO NEWS ON SESSION RESTART

Governor Kim Reynolds announced on April 27 that she would be continuing the closure of most businesses through May 15 in 22 Iowa counties, while slowly opening businesses in the other 77 counties. You can read this announcement here.

Legislative leaders have decided to continue the session suspension through May 15 as well, but that does not mean they will come back to Des Moines at that time.  They are taking this day by day, as is the Governor.  So while we do not know when they will return to session, we do know they will not just pick up where they left off.  Most likely, legislators will restart session to pass a budget and a few top priorities that may help the state address the COVID challenge.  That means most of the bills in our bill tracker will have to wait another year to be addressed.

The Governor is preparing another budget to give legislators since the state has lost money during the pandemic.  Legislative leaders will meet soon to discuss when they will be prepared to come back into session, but they will need time to look at the Governor's budget and begin negotiations on a final legislative package.  

Because things are happening so quickly, watch our social media (Facebook, Twitter) and website for updates.

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COVID RESOURCES

The State of Iowa has set up a dedicated website for all COVID-19 related news.  You can find that at coronavirus.iowa.gov. You can also find all the Governor's proclamations by date on this website, and a map of the counties that are partially re-openned (and those remaining mostly closed for business).

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council has also developed resource guides and has links to videos and other helpful information for Iowans with disabilities and their family members.  You can find those at iowaddcouncil.org.

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TAKE THE #TestIowaChallenge

Governor Kim Reynolds launched the "Test Iowa" website this week encouraging all Iowans to take the #TestIowaChallenge. This simple test will ask a few questions that will determine if you have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if you are in a risk category. You will receive a bar code If it is determined that you need to be tested for COVID-19. So take the test - 80,000 Iowans already have! Go to https://www.testiowa.com to get started!

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CENSUS 2020: MAKE SURE #DisabilitiesCount

The 2020 Census is here, and it is important that people with disabilities and their families are ready to be counted!

Every 10 years, everyone in the United States is counted through the census. It is important that everyone is counted because the information from the census is used to figure out how much money state and local governments get for Medicaid, housing vouchers, food assistance, and education programs. When there isn’t enough money, services and programs for people with disabilities may be cut. Census data is also used to determine how many representatives each state gets in the House of Representatives. Even with many self-isolating, it’s easy to complete.

 It takes just a few minutes to fill out and can be done safely right in the comfort of your home.  The census is available in accessible formats and in several languages.  Get started here.

 

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