Polls set for Primary Election Day

Marshalltown to combine precincts

After weeks of poll preparation, the big day is nearly here — the 2018 primary election will run 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and there are some changes Election Day voters should know about.

“A big change for our election coming up on June 5 for Marshalltown will be the combining of the precincts,” said Marshall County Auditor and Recorder Nan Benson. “That is only the four wards here in Marshalltown; there won’t be two separate lines in the Marshalltown precincts as there were in the past.”

Each of Marshalltown’s four wards is divided into two precincts. In previous state and national elections, city voters would be put into one of two lines to match their precinct; that won’t happen in this primary election and voters will arrive at their ward’s polling location, check in and vote without separate lines.

“It’s no different than what (voters) see on a school or city election,” said county Assistant Auditor Cynthia Reutzel. “They’re all going to go in one big room, the computer is going to have everybody on it in that ward, and they’re just going to get their ballots and vote; it’s taking that division out of the room.”

There will also be one machine to tabulate votes instead of the previous two machines. All voters in the ward, no matter which precinct, will be able to submit their completed ballots to the same machine.

“One tabulator, one big room … hopefully it will just make it smoother for voters,” Reutzel said.

Another change this year will be poll workers asking voters for a form of identification when they come to vote. A new state voting law passed in 2017 is in a “soft rollout” this year, Benson said, and voters without acceptable ID will be asked to sign an oath swearing to their identity as an eligible voter in the precinct.

Acceptable forms of identification include a valid Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s license, U.S. Passport, veteran’s or military ID, or a state-issued voter ID card.

Along with poll workers, computers will greet voters at their polling locations Tuesday.

“The computer we use will be checking people in to basically say that you’re a voter in that precinct,” Benson said. “If you’re not, there are things you can do to get signed up.”

For instance, the computer system will help new, unregistered voters sign up for Election Day registration. A voter who recently moved from a different county or precinct can also use the computer to update their information.

“It walks them through the steps of what they need to do,” Benson said. She said if a voter recently moved and the address listed on their ID is not updated, a cell phone bill, bank statement or other form of proof of residence may be used, even if it is on a cell phone screen.

“You can show the election worker your cell phone,” Benson said. She said voters may also take selfies at the polls under state law.

With all the tech to be used on Tuesday, Reutzel said security measures are being taken to protect the integrity of the primary election. The computers will not be connected to wireless internet, voting information will be passed between county and state agencies using encrypted flash drives and the United States Department of Homeland Security is constantly monitoring for issues in the state and around the country, she said.

This election will determine who battles for office in the November general election.

“This is really a nominating process,” Benson said. “We have three ballots: we have a Libertarian, a Democratic and a Republican.”

Early voting is still open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the auditor-recorder’s office in the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St. Mail-in absentee ballots must be post-marked by June 4 and received at the office by June 11 to be valid for Tuesday’s primary election.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, there are a total of 1,964,522 registered voters throughout the state, more than in the lead up to any previous primary election.

The number of registered voters in Marshall County is 22,799, made up of 7,214 Republicans, 6,751 Democrats, 74 Libertarians, 8,733 non-affiliated and 27 classified as “other,” according to county auditor-recorder’s office numbers.

As of Saturday afternoon, Benson said 559 absentee ballots had been requested in the county, of which 380 were Democratic, 174 Republican and five Libertarian. At that time, 327 of the Democratic ballots had been returned to the auditor-recorder’s office, along with 163 Republican and three Libertarian for a total of 493 returned ballots.

In the 2016 primary election 2,541 ballots were cast, 1,419 Republican and 1,122 Democratic in Marshall County.

For more information on voting in Marshall County, visit www.co.marshall.ia.us/departments/auditor/election/electiondetails/2018/primary-election-june-5-2018/ or call 641-754-6302.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com