Johnson County Auditor’s Office prepares for primary election

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 6:40 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, state auditors in Iowa have encouraged people to vote by mail to help limit the spread of the virus.

The message evidently resonated with many voters, as people lined up their vehicles to drop off their ballots at the Johnson County Administration Building on Monday. For many, like Seth Diehl, it was their first time voting this way.

“Usually, I go the day of,” Diehl said. “I’m just here to drop off my ballot.”

Travis Weipert, Johnson County auditor who oversees elections for the county, said he expects this election to have a record number of absentee votes cast for a primary. 25,000 people requested absentee ballots, 18,000 of which had been returned as of this weekend.

“We have 40 or 45,000 for presidential elections that get returned so to have half of that for a primary is just unheard of,” Weipert said.

Even still, the office has to prepare for in-person voting on Tuesday. First of all, some precincts are combined to reduce the need for workers. At each voting site, there will be signs reminding people to social distance. Weipert asked voters to give themselves a bit more time at the polls tomorrow and encouraged people to bring a mask to wear while voting. He said that will ease some of the poll workers’ concerns.

Recent demonstrations across the county after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis also have volunteers on high alert.

In Iowa, some poll workers have told local auditors they will not show up for their shifts for Tuesday’s vote.

“I talked with law enforcement this morning and emailed them. They have a list of all our sites and all our poll workers’ phone numbers," Weipert said. “I guess we’re waiting to see what tonight brings, but hopefully everything is calm, then we can go about the election as normal tomorrow.”

If need be, the county has a list of poll workers that aren’t assigned to a specific precinct and can fill in as needed tomorrow.

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