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Voters can put absentee ballots in drop boxes instead of mailing them


One of the ballot drop boxes installed at the Johnson County Administration Building, Oct. 6. 2020. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

Two drop boxes for absentee ballots were installed at the Johnson County Administration Building on Tuesday. Monday was the first day county auditor offices could mail absentee ballots to voters who have requested them, and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said his office had sent 32,000 absentee ballots to the Cedar Rapids post office to be mailed to the voters who had requested them before Oct. 5.

The two new drop boxes are located on the south side of the building at 913 S Dubuque St, and positioned to make it easy for voters to drop off their absentee ballots from their cars. Voters on foot can also use the boxes, as well as a drop slot at the front entrance of the building.

The absentee ballot must be completed and sealed as though it was being mailed.

In Linn County, the auditor’s office has a drop box located at its early voting site at 823 3rd St SW, Cedar Rapids, near the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller originally had three other drop boxes placed at Hy-Vees in Cedar Rapids and Marion to make it more convenient for voters, but Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate issued guidance stating that drop boxes for absentee ballots must be adjacent to an auditor’s office and located on county property. According to Pate, Iowa Code prohibits the use of any other drop boxes.

“I don’t agree with the guidance, and I don’t agree that the Secretary of State has the authority to dictate how we handle drop boxes,” Miller told Little Village in September. “That said, I have enough legal battles going on right now that I’m not going to push this issue.”

Miller removed the three drop boxes that had been located at Hy-Vees.

In order for an absentee ballot delivered to a drop off box to be counted, it must be deposited by the time polls close at 9 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

The drop box set up outside the Jean Oxley Public Service Center in Cedar Rapids. Aug. 26, 2020. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

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