The Johnson County Auditor’s Office launched a contact-less drive-through voting service on Monday for people who want cast an early ballot for the June 2 primary.
“We’re required by law to offer an in-person early voting,” Auditor Travis Weipert told Little Village. “And there are 99 counties doing it 99 different ways, but this is what we decided would work best for voters, and protect the public and our employees.”
The drive-through service will be available at the Johnson County Administration Building
(913 S Dubuque St in Iowa City) Monday through Friday, from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Monday, June 1.
The normal in-person voting procedure, which involves getting a ballot from the auditor office’s walk-up window and filling it out in the lobby of the county administration building, isn’t possible because the building has been closed to the public to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Instead, people wanting to cast an in-person early vote will follow the signs in the parking lot of the Johnson County Auditor’s Office and pull up under a tent. Voters will remain in their cars, and a worker from the auditor’s office will collect their information, then go inside the building to collect the ballot, which comes with envelopes to guarantee the privacy of the voters’ choices.
All the workers at the driver-through station are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE). The auditor’s office has worked with state and county officials to gather its own supply of PPE.
It will be necessary not just for the early voting, but also on Election Day. Workers at the polling sites on June 2 will be equipped with PPE, from masks and gloves to shoe coverings. They’ll also be encouraging voters to practice social distancing.
There will be fewer polling places on Election Day. The number of voting sites is being reduced from 57 to 46. Part of that reduction reflects the absence of University of Iowa students, but mostly it is due to a surge in requests in for mail-in absentee ballots, indicating that a record number of people will vote by mail.
By early Tuesday morning, the auditor’s office had already processed 4,855 requests for absentee ballots, according to Weipert. More than 1,200 more requests were still waiting to be processed, and Tuesday’s mail, with undoubtedly more requests, hadn’t arrived yet.
“By way of comparison, four years ago in 2016, we had a total of 2,131 people vote by absentee ballot in the primary,” Weipert said.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office has mailed an absentee ballot request form to everyone listed as an active voter in Iowa. The form can also be downloaded from the Johnson County Auditor’s website.