WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Big Demand for Absentee Ballots

May 8, 2020

Voters in some parts of Iowa are responding in droves to a mailing from Secretary of State Paul Pate's office.

The mailing included an absentee ballot request form for the June 2 primary. The office recently sent it to every registered voter in the state, encouraging them to cast their ballots by mail. The office has said reducing in-person voting could help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said her office is now getting swamped with requests.

“We’re getting in a day what we used to get for the whole election. It’s amazing,” she said, adding she is okay with that. “It’s what we wanted because it’s actually the safest way to vote (during the pandemic).”

She said her office received 715 absentee ballot requests during the entire early voting period for the 2016 primary. She said her office had received almost 3,000 such requests for this year’s primary as of Thursday morning (May 7).  “We’ve already had to reorder ballots,” she said.

Fraise said other county auditors she’s spoken with are experiencing the same thing this spring. “They’re all getting slammed like we are.”

Fraise said residents who did not receive the form and want one can call her office or they can download one from the Iowa Secretary of State website

She said May 22 is the last day her office can mail out an absentee ballot. She said completed ballots must be returned with a postmark of no later than June 1.