Early voting off to big start in Dallas County, Helm says

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Dallas Center Rotary Club President Mary Ireland, left, welcomed Dallas County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Julia Helm to the club's Tuesday luncheon in Memorial Park.

Monday saw some 22,000 absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election mailed from the office of Dallas County Auditor and Election Commissioner Julia Helm, a fact Helm shared at the Tuesday luncheon of the Dallas Center Rotary Club.

Rotary Club President Mary Ireland welcomed Helm on behalf of the 20 Rotarians in attendance and thanked her for addressing the membership during the busy election season.

“This election will have huge voter turnout,” Helm said. “People are either really excited or really mad. I can’t always tell the difference.” She said he office received 10,000 requests for absentee ballots already in August.

“Twenty-two thousand by mail is by far a record,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how far we go with all the in-person absentee. Will it be 25,000? Will it be 35,000?”

Absentee ballot requests can be made to Helm’s office until Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. There are about 63,000 registered voters in Dallas County.

Helm said 285 ballots were cast Monday at the temporary election office at 818 Court St. in Adel. Another 176 were cast Tuesday. On the Nov. 3 election day, Helm’s office will staff 24 precinct polling places.

“We did shrink down our precincts from 34 to 24,” she said, “and most of that was because our polling locations are not big enough to socially distance. Some of the West Des Moines are pretty small, and we had some locations that would only allow us to have 10 people in at a time, so that really doesn’t work on election day to have — I mean, that included my poll workers, so that means we’re only voting three people at a time. That’s why some of the polling places changed around the county.”

A three-week training process will start next week for volunteer poll workers, Helm said.

“We’ve had a huge outpouring of poll workers, which is great to have that much interest,” she said. “I need to balance, so now some people aren’t getting into our training just because I have too many of one party and not enough of another party. We’ve got to try to balance that out a little bit. By law, that’s Iowa code that has me do that.”

COVID-19 strictures have also affected the recruitment of polling-place volunteers.

“We can really only do 15 people at a time to do any kind of social distancing in our training,” Helm said. “We normally do 30 but since we had to cut it down to 15, it’s going to take longer.”

Helm reminded the Dallas Center Rotarians that the 2020 general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3, with the polls open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Early voting began Monday, and voters can vote at any time between now and the Nov. 3 general election, she said.

Absentee/mail-in ballots may be cast in person at the Dallas County temporary elections office at 818 Court St. in Adel from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Monday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.

The Dallas County temporary elections office at 818 Court St. in Adel will also be open Saturday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Absentee ballot request forms may be obtained at the Dallas County Auditor’s office or downloaded from the Iowa Secretary of State website. Many eligible voters in Dallas County will already have received ABRs in the mail from various sources.

The Dallas County Auditor’s office must receive all ABRs by 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, and completed absentee ballots that are returned by mail must be postmarked before midnight Monday, Nov. 2.

Absentee ballots may also be cast in person by early voters at any of the following satellite voting locations on the dates indicated:

  • Oct. 12-13: 2-8 p.m., St. Boniface Catholic Church, 1200 Warrior Lane, Waukee
  • Oct. 15-16: 2-8 p.m., McCreary Community Building, 1800 Pattee St., Perry
  • Oct. 22-23: 2-8 p.m., St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 7075 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines
  • Oct. 23: 2-8 p.m., Heartland Presbyterian Church, 1400 Hickman Road, Clive
  • Oct. 24: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Heartland Presbyterian Church, 1400 Hickman Road, Clive

Absentee ballots may be delivered in person to the Dallas County Auditor’s office on election day before the polls close at 9 p.m.

In order to be eligible to vote in the November general election, you must first be a registered voter. To find out whether you are a registered voter, visit the Iowa Secretary of State website. To register to vote you must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age, not currently judged by a court to be “incompetent to vote” and not convicted of a felony (or have received a restoration of rights).

You may register on election day at your polling place, or you may pre-register at the Dallas County Auditor’s office at any time before Saturday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. You may also download a voter registration form from the Iowa Secretary of State website and mail the completed form to: Dallas County Auditor, 210 N. 10th St., Adel, IA 50003.

In order to register to vote, you will be required to show proof of residency and identity. One valid form of ID is a valid Iowa Driver’s license with your current address. Hard copy proof of residency (electronic copies are acceptable) can be accomplished with any of the following documents:

• Property tax statement
• Utility bill
• Bank Statement
• Paycheck
• Government check
• Other government document

Proof of residency must be current within the last 45 days. A current photo ID that is valid and contains an expiration date can also be used to prove your identity. Valid documents that prove identity include:

• Out-of-state driver’s license
• Non-driver identification card
• U.S. passport
• U.S. military ID
• ID card issued by employer
• Iowa high school or college ID
• Veteran ID

If you are already registered to vote and your name, party and/or address has changed, you can indicate these changes in the same way you register, and you may do so at any time up to and including on election day. On election day, changes may be made at the voters’ polling place and if you have moved and your address has changed, then you will need to go to your new polling site to make then changes and then to vote.

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