Early voting starts for the June primary

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I Voted Today stickers, shown Oct. 26, 2016. — photo by Zak Neumann

Early voting for the June 5 primary started on Monday, just 29 days before election day. Early voting in Iowa used to start 40 days before an election, but the early voting period was trimmed by the Iowa legislature as part of the new restrictions on voting it passed last year.

“That absentee window has shrunk tremendously,” said Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert. “You can’t get an absentee ballot through the mail 11 days before the election, which will push more people to our counter and [satellite voting locations] and will create longer lines.”

“In other states, we’ve seen that people show up, see longer lines and decide to go home without voting,” Weipert said. “That’s the absolute last thing we want to see.”

The prospect of the shortened early voting period and the other major change in last year’s voting bill — having to show a photo ID to vote — depressing voter turnout is why Weipert opposed them.

For this election, voters without the required photo IDs will be able to vote after signing affidavits to affirm their identities. That process may also slow down both early and election day voting, causing longer lines.

Congressional candidates will be on the June ballot, as will statewide and county-level candidates. But in Johnson County, incumbent Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, is running unopposed, as is the Republican he’ll face in the general election, Christopher Peters. Peters was also Loebsack’s opponent in the 2016 election, which Loebsack won with 53.7 percent of the vote.

In Linn County, incumbent Rod Blum, considered one of the endangered Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, is unopposed, but four Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination for the seat.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won’t face any opposition in the primary, since former Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett failed to make the ballot, but Democratic voters will have six gubernatorial candidates from which to choose.

In other statewide races, Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, both Democrats, have no opposition in either the primary or general election. In the state auditor race, only one Democrat and one Republican are running. There will be one Democrat and five Republicans on the ballot for secretary of agriculture.

The governor’s race is the only statewide contest featuring Libertarian candidates: Marco Battaglia, a musician, and Jake Porter, a business consultant.

Voters in both Johnson and Linn counties will be choosing members of the state House and the state Senate, as well as candidates for the board of supervisors.

All in-person early voting in Linn County must be done in the auditor’s office, which is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voters will be able to cast an early vote at the Johnson County Auditor’s office on weekdays, 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but they will also have the option of going to three satellite voting sites.

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Iowa City Public Library
Monday, May 7, noon to 4 p.m.
Friday, June 1, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Coralville Public Library
Tuesday, May 29 through Friday, June 1, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
Wednesday, May 30 and Thursday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Both auditor’s offices will be closed on May 28 for Memorial Day. Both will be open on Saturday June 2 for early voting.

Friday, May 25 is the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail. Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked no later June 4 to be counted.

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