Voting from Home this Election?
Frequently Asked Questions on Iowa’s Safest Way to Vote
Is it safe to vote from home?
As the COVID-19 virus shows no sign of slowing down, Iowans may need to plan ahead when it comes voting in the upcoming November election. Iowa has a long and safe history of voters partaking in voting by mail with multiple safeguards in place to make sure Iowans who are voting by mail have their voice heard.
Is there a difference between “vote from home” and voting “absentee”?
While there is some confusion about what voting by mail is called, there is absolutely no difference between voting by mail or absentee voting despite the message coming from certain national politicians.
How do I register to vote?
To vote in Iowa, you must be a U.S. citizen, an Iowa resident, and at least 18 on election day. To register to vote fill out a voter registration form: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/voterregistration.html and return it to your local auditor either by mail or in-person.
How do I request to vote from home?
The state of Iowa and other groups both partisan and nonpartisan have sent out absentee ballot request forms. If you have not received a form, you can print one off and mail it to your auditor here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf. The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 24.
What happens if I send in more than one request?
You only need to fill out one request form, however is no punishment for sending in more than one request, and you will only receive one ballot. Once a ballot is requested, voters can track the status of their request form at this website: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search (Hint: You can also track your ballot with this link once you receive it).
When will I receive my ballot?
Ballots can be mailed out by the county auditor beginning October 5th.
Are there any important details to remember when filling out my ballot?
Voters should make sure to fill out both sides of their ballot, sign the affidavit, and fill in the required information on the envelope.
My ballot is filled out, what do I do now?
Once your ballot is filled out, you can either mail your ballot to your auditor, or if you prefer, you may hand deliver your ballot to the auditor’s office. Some auditors even have contactless drop boxes outside their offices.
When do I need to return my ballot?
To be safe, fill out your ballot and return ASAP. To ensure delivery, plan to have your ballot mailed by October 27. Ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election on November 2 to be counted. If you cannot mail your ballot before the Election you may drop off your ballot at the auditor’s office or take it with you to the polls.
What if I have more questions?
Your local county auditor should be a primary source for accurate election information. Find your local county auditor information at: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html.
Time to Get Your Flu Shot
Despite the influenza season not officially starting until late fall, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recommending Iowans obtain the vaccination soon, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still ravaging the state.
The vaccination can take up to two weeks to become effective. IDPH recommends that every Iowan over 6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine. It is especially important for some people to be vaccinated against influenza because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications, like pneumonia, if they get sick with the flu. These groups include:
- Pregnant women (by getting vaccinated when pregnant, the woman not only protects herself during this vulnerable time, but she will pass on protection to her newborn who is too young to receive a vaccine).
- Children, especially those younger than 2 years of age.
- Older adults, especially those aged 65 years and over.
- People who have certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. The flu comes on suddenly and may cause severe illness or even death, even in healthy individuals. Obtaining a vaccination is the best defense against the flu. In addition, by being vaccinated, you will prevent spreading the flu to those around you. For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/influenza.
Free COVID-19 Relief Available to Student Loan Borrowers
This week, Attorney General Tom Miller announced partnering with social enterprise ‘Summer’ to assist Iowa’s student loan borrowers with free COVID-19 relief.
Summer is a student loan advisory service that provides borrowers with guidance to save and simplify repayments. Their technology and student loan experts assist borrowers with finding, comparing, and enrolling in loan assistance and forgiveness programs.
Despite the CARES Act recent student loan relief extension, thousands of Iowa borrowers remain unsure their loans are eligible for payment suspension and interest waiver during the pandemic. This program will help Iowans navigate complex repayment processes, ensure borrowers won’t miss important payments, and are properly enrolled in assistance programs.
Iowa borrowers may access Summer’s digital platform free of charge to receive customized loan savings recommendations at www.meetsummer.org/IA/
Report Shows How Far Iowa Students are in Debt
The report that provides a snapshot of Iowa’s higher education system. It includes information on student debt.
According to the report, Iowa’s student loan debt per person has increased 19% since 2012. However, from 2008 to 2019 the number of Iowans filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), declined by 4%.
The US News Data reports that nationally, the average student debt increased from $21,200 among 2008 graduates to nearly $30,000 among 2018 graduates.
To view the latest “Condition of Higher Education” report for Fiscal Year 2020 visit: http://publications.iowa.gov/32065/1/Condition_of_Higher_Education_in_Iowa_2020.pdf
Other Iowa News
REMEMBER TO FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS: September 30 marks the last opportunity for Iowans to respond to the census on their own, or for census workers to knock on doors. States with larger rural areas are lagging in response rates and could be disproportionately impacted and funding for communities depends on our census count. For Iowans who haven’t filed out their census go to: 2020census.gov.
STATE PARK VOLUNTEER DAY SEPTEMBER 26: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting its annual statewide volunteer day at state parks on September 26th. Over 30 state parks across the state will have projects ready for volunteers. Projects include picking up litter, clearing trails, removing trees, and painting. Volunteers are asked to RSVP if they are attending and social distancing is encouraged. To find a park near you visit, www.iowadnr.gov/volunteer.
IMPORTANT MEDICAID DEADLINE OCT 30: A majority of current IA Health Link and Hawki members can change their Managed Care Organization (MCO’s) for any reason through October 30. However, members are not being reassigned and do not have to change MCOs if they don’t want to. For more information go to: dhs.iowa.gov/iahealthlink/open-choice.
NEW RESOURCE FOR JOB SEEKERS: IowaWORKS & Iowa Workforce Development have launched a mobile app that allows Iowans to search for jobs on the go. The new app will help job seekers update their resumes, search for jobs, and communicate with IowaWORKS staff. Iowans can download the app at no cost through Google Play or the Apple App Store. Learn more about the app at: iowaworks.gov.