Voter wait times may be slowed because of new election rule

Published: Oct. 31, 2018 at 10:15 PM CDT
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Have you voted yet? Politicians, political parties, campaign ads, everyone seems to be pushing early voting. But, in those cases, it's for political gain.

County auditors, however, are pushing early voting for a different reason-- it'll save you and them a lot of time on Election Day. That's truer now than ever due to new election rules.

Jones County Auditor Janine Sulzner has advised people the elimination of straight-party voting on the ballot for this election cycle could increase wait times. Voters will now have to go line by line on the ballot instead of checking one option for Democrats or Republicans. Nearly a third of Iowa voters used the option in the past midterm.

The Linn County Auditor, Joel Miller, recently posted to Twitter that it's taking voters about four minutes to complete this year's ballots. The time will compound in a crowded precinct on an Election Day expected to see a high turnout.

Sulzner has prepared for the high numbers by being proactive.

"I have added more booths at the precincts," said Sulzner. "We are using laptop computers and electronic register. At bigger precincts, I have added an extra computer in all of those places. I would have done that regardless."

Even in a rural county, like Jones, wait times on Election Day typically get to 15 minutes or higher during peak hours, before and after work.

"You will have long lines at about 7:00 in the morning," said Sulzner. "Then again at about 4:30 in the afternoon."

Sulzner said to avoid long lines on Election Day, arrive at your precinct later in the morning or earlier in the afternoon. The best option, though, is to either vote absentee or find a spot to vote early in person.