With the general election just two weeks away, more than 2,000 Hamilton County voters have already cast their ballots or will soon as submit an absentee ballot.
"It's been nonstop," said Kim Schaa, Hamilton County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections of traffic to her office on the lower level of the courthouse. Eligible voters can submit requests for absentee ballots which can then be mailed in or dropped off, or they can sit right down at booths in the courthouse lobby to cast ballots.
"The first week of early voting was brisk and then it slowed down a bit," Schaa said. "But it has picked back up again. We're seeing about 120 requests a day."
As of Monday, Schaa said there had been requests for 2,184 absentee ballots. That represents about 20 percent of 11,063 registered voters in the county.
"We're right on pace to surpass the 2008 totals," she said. That year, there were 3,077 absentee ballots or 30 percent of the registered voters.
There are many reasons why voters are choosing to request absentee ballots. Some are from those who plan to travel south for the winter, others come from those who have a hard time getting out to the polls on election day or who may be away from home due to work. But Schaa said the biggest reason people seem to be requesting ballots is to avoid Election Day waits.
"They don't want to stand in the long lines they're expecting on Election Day," she said.
Saturday marks an important deadline for the election, Schaa said. That's the last day to preregister to vote. Schaa's office will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those wishing to preregister. Those voters will need to provide their current Iowa photo drivers license or non-operators ID; or if neither is available, the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number along with some proof of residence, such as a residential lease, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check.
Voters can also obtain absentee ballots on Saturday, or on the following Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 is the last day to request an absentee ballot via mail, Schaa said, but added that voters can cast absentee ballots in person at her office until 5 p.m. Nov. 5, the day before the election.
She urged those mailing in ballots to follow directions and be sure to correctly sign and seal the ballot in the affidavit envelope.
For more information about absentee ballots or the general election, contact the auditor's office at (515)832-9510.