Precinct officials prepare for busy Nov. 3 election

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Election Day is less than a week away, Tuesday, Nov. 3.

     In Jones County, the voter-turnout record was set in 2012 with 75 percent. Already close to 5,000 absentee ballots have been issued by the County Auditor’s Office, with a 75-percent return rate. If voter enthusiasm like this continues, another record could be set for 2020.

     “It is hard to tell at this point if the increase in absentee voting is due to over interest,” noted County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Janine Sulzner. Other reasons for a high number of absentee ballot requests could be the current COVID-19 pandemic, or the fact that so many absentee ballot request forms were sent out to voters this year.

     “I am preparing for a record turnout nonetheless,” Sulzner said.

     The June primary election was the first election to be held early on in the pandemic. At that time, poll watcher numbers were reduced from three to one. Current law for general elections allows for three. (Poll watchers are those appointed by a political party.)

     All poll watchers will also be required to wear proper face coverings. Sulzner said on the flipside, she cannot require voters to wear face coverings.

     Poll workers, hired by the county to help conduct an election, are typically sitting behind an acrylic safety panel. With that in mind, some pay or may not be wearing face coverings.

     There will be hand sanitizer available to the public as well.

     Sulzner said he had no problem securing enough poll workers for the General Election.

     “A few of our ‘regulars’ are not working due to health concerns,” she shared, “but anyone who worked the primary was willing to work at the general.”

     There are also some new poll workers this year. Those first-timers met with Sulzner to review the current public health situation and guidelines in place to conduct a safe election for all.

     Voters need to remember to bring an ID with them to the polls on Election Day. If the address on the ID is not a current address (meaning, if the voter has recently moved), proof of residency is also required.

     Anyone who still has an absentee ballot come Election Day, those ballots can be taken to the polling sites and surrendered for a regular ballot.

     “If the voter has not returned their absentee ballot, it will be quicker for them to bring that ballot packet to the polls and surrender it,” urged Sulzner. “Otherwise, phone calls will need to be made back to Auditor’s Office to confirm the absentee ballot was not returned, and the record updated before the voter can vote using a regular ballot.”

     Any absentee ballots received at the Auditor’s Office by 9 p.m. on Election Day are counted on that day (Nov. 3). Absentee ballot packets will be opened the day before the election, stored securely, and then counted along with all the other ballots on Election Day.

     “I encourage voters to be patient and prepared (on Election Day),” warned Sulzner, “especially if waiting to vote at the polls. Remember these are your friends and neighbors (referring to poll workers) who are providing this service at the polling places.”

     While some national media outlets aren’t guaranteeing a winner will be announced for many national races until the day(s) following the election, Sulzner said there will be winners announced for county races once the polls close after 9 p.m. on Election Day.

     This election will be Sulzner’s last election after serving for the county for 30 years. She admitted it is a bittersweet moment.

     “But I am looking forward to retirement,” she said.

     Despite the hectic time surrounding any election, Sulzner said she does enjoy administering elections.

     “Certainly this year with COVID and so much election misinformation from a variety of sources, this year has certainly been a challenge,” she said. Add to that issues stemming from the Aug. 10 derecho, which impacted Sulzner’s personal property.

     “I so much appreciate my dedicated staff, including our temporary staff, and the dedication of our precinct officials, each doing their part to provide this very important opportunity for our citizens,” praised Sulzner.


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