The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 2, 2012

Absentee voting ‘explodes’ this year

Numbers already surpassing 2008 absentee totals

OTTUMWA — Advertisements, commercials and campaigns have barraged voters with messages to vote early this fall, and area county auditors are feeling the pressure.

“It’s just exploded,” said Jefferson County Auditor Scott Reneker. “More and more have been voting absentee in every election cycle.”

Reneker said voting has changed dramatically over the last 25 years.

“Twenty to 25 years ago in a presidential general election, you’d see in Jefferson County 100 to 200 — at most — absentee voters voting,” he said.

This year, Jefferson County has seen nearly 4,400 absentee votes so far, already surpassing the total number of absentee voters, 4,100, in the 2008 election.

The trend is similar in other area counties, with Wapello County seeing 6,731 absentee voters so far (compared to a total of 6,100 absentee votes in 2008) and Davis County seeing 1,330 absentee votes so far (compared to a total of 1,139 absentee votes in 2008).

“Some of our biggest days are coming, especially Monday, the day before the election,” Reneker said. “In the past, there have been a couple hundred just on that day alone.”

Wapello County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon said this election has put even more pressure on early voting.

“It seems like people are voting absentee this year more so with the presidential election,” she said. “In the federal election in 2014, I don’t think we’ll see near as many absentees.”

Davis County Auditor Linda Humphrey said since both parties have been hammering the issue of early voting, it seems to be “the thing to do this year.

“It’s like having two elections, because we’re trying to prepare for Election Day,  but at the counter and in the mail, we’re getting tons every day we have to do,” she said. “They wanted people to go vote before they changed their mind.”

Another phenomenon putting more work on county auditors’ plates is lengthening voter lists, Reneker said.

After the National Voter Registration Act took effect in 1995, auditors nationwide could no longer purge non-active voters, or “those who hadn’t voted in four years’ time” from their lists, Reneker said.

“They used to be automatically removed from the list and then need to re-register, so it kept everyone’s lists more current,” he said. “So everyone’s lists are growing.”

In a county like Jefferson County with 12,700 registered voters, Reneker estimates 500 to 1,000 of those are no longer eligible to vote.

“People pick up and move to a different area, state, whatever, and we don’t know it,” he said. “If they don’t notify us, we don’t have a method to remove their name from the list.”

Reneker agreed that this year’s election has created a buzz about early voting.

“Every time you go home, there’s solicitations in your mailbox to vote absentee,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good thing, no. I think the integrity of the election is impacted adversely.”

He said with inaccurate lists, it makes absentee voting more susceptible to improper handling, “even the coercion of a spouse in some instances.”

“When you go on Election Day, you have the privacy of a voting booth, and that’s different in some homes,” he said. “It’s just more problematic.”

Despite frustrations from voters, Humphrey said it’s not the auditor’s offices who are sending out absentee ballot request forms — it’s the political parties. Voters assume the auditor’s office sends the forms because that’s where they have to be returned, Humphrey said.

“It seems like more people are interested in doing it, so we’ve been explaining things a lot more because they want to know the facts,” Humphrey said. “They’re asking us questions like how they’re counted on Election Day. We even had somebody tell us they thought their absentee ballot wouldn’t be counted at all if the election wasn’t close.

“It’s good that people are making themselves educated on the process.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta bw photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard bw cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition