DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s absentee ballots need to be in your county auditor’s hand by exactly 8 p.m. on election night, with no excuse for postmarked ballots that arrive late. The new rules has some county auditors asking people with mail-in ballots to now skip the mail and drop it off at their office instead.

“In Polk County, we have a dropbox. It’s open 24 hours a day and monitored by security cameras,” said Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald. “We would not put it in the mail at this point.”

The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office reports 272,469 ballots have already been turned in across the state, as of Nov. 3. That statistic also the includes 97,261 Iowans who chose to vote early and in person.

“I wanted to vote early to make sure I didn’t miss it next week because I might be out of town,” said Kevin Driscoll, who voted early and in-person in Polk County. “I also wanted to take advantage of how easy it is to come down to the County Auditor’s office and vote.”

Mail-in ballots in Iowa tend to be filled out by mostly registered Democratic Party members. According to the Nov. 3 stats, 145,027 absentee votes (53%) are from registered Democrats, 87,527 absentee votes (32%) are from registered Republicans, and 39,291 absentee votes (14%) are from unaffiliated voters.

However, Democrats and Republicans are evenly split in the in-person early votes cast so far. When narrowing down the absentee votes to just in-person early voting ballots, 41,828 (43%) are from registered Democrats, 40,479 (42%) are from registered Republicans, and 14,722 (15%) are from unaffiliated voters.

“It started out really slow,” Fitzgerald said about Polk County’s early voting numbers. “We started out lower than 2018, so we’re now starting to catch up to the momentum. People are showing up to the County Auditor’s office, along with satellite voting.”