Monday, November 03, 2014

A little bit about absentee ballots

I ran into two friends --- one a Democrat and the other a Republican --- over the weekend who had not yet turned in absentee ballots. Easy enough to happen --- and while I've never been in that position it's a result more of dumb luck than careful planning since I always vote early (and only for Democrats), either at the courthouse or more often by absentee.

The difficulty is, there's a lot of misinformation out there about what happens in Iowa to late-blooming absentee ballots, and about what to do with them.

If your ballot just turned up under a pile of paper, your best bet is to hand-deliver the completed ballot sealed as directed today or on Election Day to the county auditor's office. You cannot, repeat cannot, turn in your voted absentee ballot at a polling place on Tuesday. Only at the auditor's office.

Contrary to various legends, absentee ballots received in the auditor's office before polls close on Tuesday are counted and results included in the totals announced at end of business on Election Day. There is no truth to the rumor that absentee ballots ever are counted only in case of close elections.

Technically, you can still drop a completed absentee ballot in the mail today --- but it won't be counted until after Election Day and in order to be counted at all it must bear today's postmark. That's an issue because post offices no longer postmark local mail routinely. So don't drop a ballot off at say the Chariton post office this morning for delivery to the Lucas County Courthouse. Without that local postmark, it won't be counted. 

If you've lost your absentee ballot, you need to take care of that today at the auditor's office, too. You can go to your polling place on Tuesday, but will be required to sign an oath. Even then, your ballot will be provisional and your vote won't be added to official tallies until after the provisional board has made sure your absentee ballot wasn't submitted, too.

And keep in mind that on Tuesday you can vote only at official polling places and not at the auditor's office --- unless you're trailing in with a completed absentee ballot.

And now I'm going to have another cup of coffee and feel smug about having gotten my ballot in the mail in a timely manner.

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