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The Process of Voting Absentee: Your Questions Answered
Posted on Thursday May 14, 2020
While the Secretary of State and County Auditors state-wide are encouraging voters to vote absentee, many are unfamiliar with, even leery of, the process. The Decatur County Auditor's Office has prepared this brief description of the process.

 First, an absentee ballot cannot be issued until a voter submits a completed Absentee Ballot Request Form to the County Auditor’s Office.

Upon confirming the registration of the requestor, the Auditor’s Office assigns a sequence number and mails to the voter:

  1. Instructions for marking the ballot

  2. A pre-stamped return envelope, the outside of which MUST be signed by the voter

  3. The ballot

  4. NOTE: Per state law, an additional secrecy envelope is only required to be included when the ballot is a two-sided ballot and cannot be folded in on itself so that all of the votes cast can be hidden.

The voter may mail or hand-deliver the ballot, sealed in the signed envelope, back to the Auditor’s Office.  Upon receipt, the Auditor’s Office updates the sequence number to show it has been received, and the sealed envelope is placed in a lockbox in the Auditor’s Office until the absentee voting deadline has passed.

Once the absentee voting deadline has passed, a special precinct board (3 election workers) convenes and takes an oath to uphold election laws and “endeavor to prevent fraud, deceit and abuse in conducting the election.”  The board reconciles the number of absentee ballots received from Auditor’s Office staff and then opens every envelope and removes the folded ballot to one central stack, preserving the secrecy of each voter’s ballot during this process.  Once all envelopes are emptied, the ballots are shuffled and stacked, and the board reconciles again the number of ballots received. 

The ballots are not hand counted; instead, the special precinct board inserts each ballot into the optical scan voting machine (like the ones used by each polling place on election day).  After all ballots have been scanned, the machine generates and prints a results tape for the Absentee precinct.  The results of the Absentee precinct are not published or otherwise made available until after election day polls have closed.

The counted ballots are then removed from the scanner collection bin and sealed in a container; all members of the special precinct board sign across the seal.

641/446-4323                Decatur County Auditor’s Office                  e-mail: [email protected]

Decatur County Iowa
County Courthouse 207 N. Main St. Leon, IA 50144
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