Dozens denied absentee ballots in Linn County due to shorter request period

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Changes to Iowa voting laws have caught some off guard, with the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the November 2 election already passing a week ago.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said that 257 people have requested absentee ballots in the county since the deadline, as of Monday. Previously, Iowans could request absentee ballots 11 days out from an election. A new law pushed that deadline to 15 days out. That means those people won’t be able to vote by mail.

Jay and Jo Moore, of Marion, said they were counting on an absentee ballot in order to vote. Since March, a series of health complications have kept Jo from being able to walk.

”She can’t ride in a car, everything has to be done by transport,” Jay said.

Jay said that he called the Linn County Auditor’s Office last Tuesday to request an absentee ballot and learned he was already too late.

”It just, it kind of disrupted. We love to take part in the voting process and we could if I could get her in a car,” Jay said.

Miller said the change is surprising some voters.

”These dates are just too accelerated, the window’s too tight for people, and it wasn’t publicized to the extent it needs to be publicized,” Miller said.

Jo said she had every intention of voting absentee.

”Now I’m thinking there has to be a lot of people in my situation that maybe don’t realize this deadline,” Jo said.

Miller said in certain situations they’re able to make accommodations. But in others, they can’t.

”If they were in the hospital, or in a nursing home, or in a dementia unit, then we could send a two-person team out to assist them with voting. We could take a ballot out to them. These people are shut-in, they’re at home, there’s no provision in the law that we could send a two-person team to their house to deliver a ballot,” Miller said.

For Jo, this means finding a way to get to the polls in-person, or not voting altogether.

”This is not political, it could be any party, anyone that needs, that wants to vote. We just want them to be able to vote,” Jo said.

There are several other changes to Iowa voting laws. The early voting period is shortened by 9 days, and the majority of mail-in ballots must be received by the time polls close on election day.

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