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Auditor’s office prepares for Tuesday primary

T-R GRAPHIC

Marshall County’s primary is looking to have a higher turnout than the last two primaries.

This year 5,200 ballots were requested to vote absentee and 3,600 ballots have already been mailed in as of Friday. Only 53 of those 3,600 came into vote, everyone else voted by mail.

“We’ve had so many more people vote by mail than we did in past primaries,” said Nan Benson Marshall County Auditor and Recorder. “Two years ago in 2018 we had around 500 people vote absentee, which means they voted before the election.”

In 2018 only 2,800 people participated in the primary, and four years ago 2,600 people participated.

“Obviously we’re going to have more voters, because we’re already over that 3,300 to 3,400 threshold right now,” she said. “We still have a lot of ballots out that I’m anticipating will be returned.”

Last week the Marshall County Auditor’s officer held three days of training for poll workers who plan to help in the primary this Tuesday.

“We do it close to the primary so retention is better,” Benson said. “Thursday afternoon we met with 40 to 42 of our election officials to go through the training process plus all of the new COVID-19 processes.”

This Tuesday’s primary is another step in what is shaping to be a unique presidential election year. While there are two presumptive nominees for both parties, Republican President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden, the election itself may include people voting by mail or absentee because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marshall County uses electronic tracing so if the post office doesn’t post mark the ballot Marshall County can still count the ballots.

“As long as they have it mailed before election day and even if we get three days after the election, we will know when it first hit the post office,” Benson said. “We have had that set up since early 2018.”

Four precincts are planned for the primary, a lower number than usual.

“From the middle of April to the first week in May we lost a lot of precinct workers,” Benson said. Many declined to work out of fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then eight to 10 people have volunteered to help, but overall Marshall County lost 30 precinct workers for the primary.

“We went from seven to locations down to four,” Benson said. Marshalltown will have two locations and State Center and Le Grand will have the other two precinct locations.

The locations are at the Marshalltown Public Library at 206 W. Boone St. and Redeemer Lutheran Church at 1600 S. Center St. in Marshalltown, the LeGrand Community Building at 206 N. Vine St. in Le Grand and the West Marshall Middle School Gym 207 3rd St SW in State Center.

Workers have plexiglass guards and hand sanitizer to help keep voters and workers healthy.

On Tuesday people may not see lines at the precincts.

“Some of the people that voted normally on election day have already voted by mail,” Benson said. “I’m thinking it’ll be a quieter day.”

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Contact Thomas Nelson at tnelson@timesrepublican.com

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