Mail-in or walk-up, it is safe to vote

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Many people have expressed concern about mail-in voting. Is the U.S. Postal Service being sabotaged, will our votes be counted? Is American democracy continuing the way it is meant to be?

Voting by mail is actually very secure. With millions of citizens turning to mail-in voting, many for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel doubt about the USPS delivering mail mail equals doubts about the election.

Seventy-six percent of Americans polled said they will vote by mail, but it will take a little more planning and work from us, the voters.

Voting by mail and early voting begin Monday, Oct. 5. Look for our newspaper's candidate guide in print Thursday, Oct. 1.

Election Day this year is November 3. Polls are open 7 a.m to 9 p.m.

In Iowa, the deadline to request a ballot by mail is 5 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 24, but voters should request the ballots as far in advance of the election as possible. Iowa offers voting in person and absentee voting in addition to mail-in ballots. The important part is to submit the request to the county auditor's office and not to any other address.

Need to register to vote? Voters in Iowa must be a U.S citizen, turn 18 or older by November 3, not have been convicted of a felony, or have their rights restored, not currently judged by a court to be incompetent to vote, not claim the right to vote in more than one place.

Active-duty and overseas voters can register to vote and request their absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application. This registration can be sent to the election official and the ballot, once received, also sent back as soon as possible.

On a ship at sea, this should take place Sept. 28 or 35 days before the election; for others outside the U.S it is recommended to have the ballot sent back 30 days before the election or Oct. 2; and everyone living stateside should mail in their ballots by Oct. 23 to be sure. This is 11 days before the elction.

This year, the Iowa Secretary of State website offers tracking an absentee ballot request form and an absentee ballot.

Also new this year, voters are required to show a valid form of ID at the polls in order to vote. These include an Iowa Voter Identification Card, issued to those who do not have state ID from the Iowa Dept. of Transportation, an Iowa Driver's license or non-operator ID, U.S. Military or Veteran ID, U.S. Passport, or Tribal ID card/document.

Should you show up at the polls and do not have a valid ID, there are a few options still: another registered voter in your precinct may attest to your identity; you may fill out Election Day registration documents, or you may cast a provisional ballot and come back with ID to show the county auditor up until the time of the county canvass of votes Monday, Nov. 9.

As a citizen concerned about the future of our democracy, every jurisdiction is facing a critical shortage of poll workers amid COVID-19. Many voters will vote in person, and Emmet County's election officials are working to ensure everyone's safety.

Most poll workers have traditionally been over the age of 61, making them especially vulnerable to complications if they contract COVID-19. This has resulted in a critical need for poll workers who are willing and able to assist with the administration of in-person voting on and before Election Day.

Poll workers are critical to the success of an election. Having an adequate number of poll workers to staff polling places on and before Election Day can ensure voters receive the assistance they need at the polls and can help provide a positive and smooth voting experience for all. 

Most jurisdictions task election workers with setting up and preparing the polling location, welcoming voters, verifying voter registrations, and issuing ballots. Poll workers also help ensure voters understand the voting process by demonstrating how to use voting equipment and explaining voting procedures.

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