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Election Changes & Iowans with Disabilities

Monday, July 5, 2021

Iowans with disabilities have always faced challenges when it comes to voting. Iowa's secretary of states have always worked hard to make sure those barriers are addressed, and that continues to be the case. Unfortunately, there were some major changes to Iowa election law that could make voting harder.  We will spend more time over the summer and fall getting you ready for these changes, which will affect how you vote in 2022 when Iowans will vote for Governor, US Senator, US Representatives, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Agriculture, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and state legislators. 

We will provide you with more guidance on this later, but here is a quick look at the biggest changes and how they may affect you:

  • Only you, your immediate family, someone you live with, or a caregiver can mail or drop off your absentee (mail-in) ballot.  Legislators added a new crime - unlawful delivery of a ballot. You cannot have a friend, neighbor, or campaign volunteer mail your ballot, put it in a ballot dropbox, or bring your ballot.  You can have a friend, neighbor or someone you trust fill out a form that designates them as your delivery person if you have a physical disability or are blind (the law identifies only these two disabilities). That delivery person will only be able to deliver the ballot to the county auditor, and they'll have to present their ID and delivery form when doing so.

These changes limit the people you can have deliver or mail your ballot.  For those that live alone or do not have family nearby, this means you'll have to take it to the post office or county courthouse yourself. 

  • You will now have a shorter time to request and vote a mail-in ballot.  Several changes made will make it really tough to make sure your vote is counted if voting by mail at home. There is less time to request it, so you'll have to send in your request quickly. There is less time to vote the mail-in ballot and get it into the mail, so you'll want to make sure you have someone available to help you vote the ballot quickly if you need assistance in making your mark.  Finally, ballots need to be received by the end of election day.  Post marks no longer count, so you'll want to make sure you get it into the mail and have enough time for it to be delivered (or deliver it to the courthouse yourself before election day).

These changes mean if you want to vote early by mail, you probably need to put all the deadlines in your calendar so you don't miss them. You will want to make sure someone is available to hep you, or you might consider voting early at a satellite voting station so you don't need to worry about the mail.  Voting on election day is still a great option, but snow, illness, or lack of reliable transportation may impact your ability to depend on that. 

Voting early is still a great option but these changes mean you will probably have to rethink your choices and plan accordingly.  Don't worry - we're here to help and will get you more information this summer and fall. 


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