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Absentee voting begins

Voting early becomes increasingly popular as both campaigns push supporters to the polls

September 27, 2012
Jim Krajewski ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Today marks the 40th day before the November election, as well as the start of absentee voting in Iowa this year.

Hamilton County auditor Kim Schaa said absentee voting has become more popular with each passing general election.

"Both the parties have pushed [absentee voting] and they do the mailers and people fill them out and send them in," Schaa said.

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Hamilton County auditor Kim Schaa set up four voting booths at the county courthouse. She has been busy preparing for absentee voting, which she said has become more popular in Iowa every election.

Absentee voting has also become easier, according to Schaa. She remembered back to when she began to work for the county and absentee ballots had to be notarized with a signature on the affidavit. That is no longer required.

Schaa said Iowa code states that a voter must be out of their county on election day to file an absentee vote. However, that isn't really the case anymore. Schaa said the rule has become more and more lax over the years. Both Democrats and Republicans pushing for supporters to cast their vote as soon as possible have helped it become more normalized, according to Schaa.

Request forms for absentee voting can be found at the auditor's office, online at the Iowa secretary of state's website, or mailed to a residence from the auditor if requested by phone. Schaa said the request can only be submitted by filling in the required information and signing the form by hand.

Forms may also be picked up at the Republican or Democrat headquarters in Webster City. Both are located near the intersection of Second St. and Willson Ave. A number of Hamilton County Democrats will be gathering at their headquarters today at 11 a.m. to go to the auditor's office and vote absentee.

The Hamilton County auditor's office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. They will also be open the two Saturdays prior to the election, on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Schaa said she will announce the hours they will be open on those Saturdays at a later date.

She also said that the Saturday two weeks before the election used to be the last chance to register to vote. Now, voters can register at the polls on election day. But, Schaa said that it's much faster and easier to register ahead of the elections.

Voters who have moved since they last registered should get their address changed and register again, according to Schaa. Anyone not sure if they are registered should call the auditor's office.

According to a release from the office of the Iowa secretary of state, voters can vote an absentee ballot at the county auditor's office until Nov. 5. Voters may request an absentee ballot by mail until Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. If requesting a ballot by mail, it must be returned to the auditor's office by Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. in person, or postmarked no later than Nov. 5 and received no later than midnight on Nov. 13. The office urges early mailing to ensure ballots are cast.

Schaa added that the Hamilton County auditor's office is looking for more poll workers. There are several positions open, and Schaa said they need both Democrats and Republicans, as the political leanings of the poll workers must be balanced. She said the job offers pay and training is provided. Poll workers must be registered to vote.



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