DES MOINES, Iowa — We are five days out from Election Day. If you still have an absentee ballot to be sent in, there are ways to ensure it gets to your county’s election office in time, including a ballot pick up program.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve really focused on mail-in voting and absentee voting in Iowa, but when we started to hear some concerns about slow mail, we developed a ballot pickup program,” Judy Downs, the Polk County Democrat Party Executive Director said. “We have about 160 volunteers in Polk County, who are ready to pick your ballot up anywhere in the county and deliver it downtown.”
This ballot pick up program is possible because of an Iowa code that allows voters to designate an individual to deliver their absentee ballot for them, whether that be a friend, family member or volunteer. The Polk County Democrats said they’ve already picked up and delivered over 500 ballots and expect to double that by Tuesday.
“The demand has been really high and it’s been fascinating to see all aspects of life really utilizing this service,” Downs said. “We’ve been able to reach folks who aren’t able to get out of the house, have a disability or don’t have access to easily deliver their ballot downtown. We’ve been able to help a lot of people.”
They’ve also picked up ballots from a lot of people, like busy parents, who just want one less thing to worry about and make sure their vote counts. Volunteer Scott Matter said he picks up the ballots and delivers them to the county’s election office the same day.
“What’s especially, I think, inspiring this year is people are so fired up to get out and make sure that their vote counts in this cycle. A lot of the people that I’ve been picking up ballots from did not participate four years ago for whatever reason, they decided their vote wasn’t needed. Now, they are really passionate, frankly, they’re tired of the chaos and divisiveness the last four years and they want to make sure their vote counts,” Matter said. “They like somebody coming to pick up their ballot, because of all the news and concerns about whether mail is being delayed, and they just want that satisfaction.”
Polk County residents can call or text the Polk County Democrat Party at 515-207-2589 to have a certified volunteer pick it up and deliver the ballot. The ballot can then be tracked on the Secretary of State’s website.
The Republican Party of Iowa said it isn’t doing any ballot pickups because they consider it ballot harvesting, and it doesn’t engage in that kind of activity.
There are other options for people wanting to turn in their absentee ballots besides the pick-up or mail-in options. People can also drop off their absentee ballot directly to the election office in Polk County at 120 2nd Avenue, Suite A in Des Moines.
There are secure ballot drop-offs in different parts of the county. For example, there is one in Ankeny at the DMACC parking lot L Saturday, October 31st from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Of course, anyone can vote early at their county’s election office during business hours or can vote on Election Day at their polling location. You can find your polling location here.