Dear Editor:

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate will be sending out absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter this week. If you need to register to vote and would like to do that online it can be done on the Iowa DOT web site or by following this shorted link: All registered voters are eligible to request a ballot in Iowa. Note that in Iowa, you send in a request form to your county auditor, letting them know you would like to vote absentee, and then your County Auditor will send you a ballot once the voting window starts.

When can I submit an absentee ballot request form? Absentee ballot request forms need to be received by your county auditor anytime between now and Saturday, Oct. 24. However, sooner is better because the closer to the election we get, the busier the Auditor’s office will be and the tighter the mail deadlines.

When do absentee ballots go out to voters? Ballots start going out to voters who requested them Monday, Oct. 5, and can be mailed back in as late as the day before the election (Monday, Nov. 2) as long as they are postmarked with that date. The County Auditor must receive ballots by noon on Nov. 9 to Absentee Ballot Request Forms Coming to Your Mailbox be counted. Again, please do not wait until the last minute. If you intend to vote absentee, please do so well ahead of the election.

What information do I need to request an absentee ballot? You will need your name, date of birth, your residential address, your voter ID number (includes any one of the following: Iowa Driver’s License number, Iowa Dot Non-Operator ID card number, or your four digit voter PIN located on the Iowa Voter ID Card), date of the election (11/03/20), and your signature. If you don’t have a driver’s license or non-operator ID, and can’t find your Voter ID Card Pin, please contact the Madison County Auditor’s Office and they can work with you (515-705-0348). You do NOT need witnesses or a notary in Iowa.

Is there anyway to track my request form or my ballot? Yes. The Iowa Secretary of State has an easy way to track your request form and ballot online. You can go to the Secretary of State’s web site or follow this shortened URL to get to the page:

What if I send in multiple Absentee Ballot Request Forms? You very well might receive multiple absentee ballot request forms in the mail from different sources. Regardless of the number of request form you submit, you will only receive one ballot. If you unsure if you have submitted a request form, please check the link above. 

What happens if I make a minor mistake on my Absentee Ballot Request Form? The Iowa legislature voted this year to make it so the County Auditor cannot use their available information to make small corrections to voter request forms. If a voter puts down the wrong street suffix, transposes a number, or puts the election date down wrong, then the County Auditor will be reaching out to you to make sure that the correction is made.

Voting absentee is a safe and secure way to exercise the duty, privilege and right that many have fought and died for in this country. Madison County is often at or near the top of the list for Iowa counties with high voter turnout, so let’s continue that trend in November. 

—Ryan Marquardt, Van Meter