Absentee Ballots Requested Reach Record High in Iowa

The state of Iowa has seen unprecedented numbers of absentee ballots requested ahead of the June 2 Democratic and Republican primaries. Due to COVID-19, voters could be wary to go to the polls on election day, but most of the surge has been from Secretary of State Paul Pate’s decision to mail every registered Iowa voter an absentee ballot request form.

As of Friday, 474,427 Iowans requested an absentee ballot, far surpassing the 50,868 people who voted by mail in the 2018 primary, and eclipsing the 288,749 Iowans that voted in that primary.

So far, over 57,000 more Democrats than Republicans have requested a ballot for the primary. While these are not the final margins, it signifies that Democrats are eager to vote, and this trend could be helpful for the general election in November.

Iowa Political Consultant Jeff Link points to the fact that more Republicans than Democrats voted in the 2016 primary, previewing the significant wins for Republicans that year. 

“The fact that there were more Republicans, even by a slight number than Democrats, that participated in that primary led to a big general election for the Republicans,” Link said.

The absentee ballot numbers also provide some interesting insights into some of the most competitive primary races on June 2. In Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, incumbent congressman Steve King is facing a challenge from State Senator Randy Feenstra. There have been 67,978 ballots requested in the 4th District, which is more than one in every three registered Republicans.

Advertise on Iowa Starting Line

It is intriguing to note where these ballots are coming from. More Republican absentee ballots have been requested in Senate District 2, the district Feenstra represents, than in any other Senate District in the state. 9,578 Republican ballots have been requested in that district, 1,200 more than the next closest district. This large amount of absentees requested from his district stands to help Feenstra as he takes on King. 

Another interesting area to watch is House District 85 where Democratic Representative Vicki Lensing is facing a primary challenge from Christina Bohannan. In that district, 5,760 Democratic absentee ballots have been requested, the highest in the state. This large number of ballots being requested is likely due to the campaigns encouraging their voters to vote early via absentee ballot.

What remains to be seen is how the increase in absentee ballots will affect all of the primary races. Link thinks that it will surely “shake things up.” The electorate is expanding, and any primary campaign that can get their supporters to vote by mail will likely see advantages on primary night.

You can find the absentee information on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.


by Adam Henderson
Posted 5/24/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

5 Comments on "Absentee Ballots Requested Reach Record High in Iowa"

  • Absentee ballots are an encouraging sign – but it would help if we had a candidate at the top of the ticket that encouraged Iowa Democrats to turn out in November. Joe Biden ain’t the one – in fact he’s a national embarrassment. As a lifelong Democrat and a former county chair I won’t be voting for him if he is the nominee. Am hoping that he can somehow be denied a first ballot nomination. I will support downticket Dems that are worthy of my vote but I don’t automatically vote for any idiot who has a “D” next to their name.

  • I have to wonder what sort of lifelong Democrat would enable a second term for the worst President we could ever have imagined–one that would cancel everything Democrats have won in the last hundred years while he then sets up the courts for the next generation or two of plutocratic rule. Some Democrat you must be!

  • Jerry- There are plenty of other lifelong Democrats such as myself who won’t be voting for Joe Biden should he win the nomination. . Either leave POTUS line blank or find a 3rd party alternative. Biden can’t put two sentences together and can’t remember what he had for breakfast. And yes I remember his plagiarism from the 1988 Iowa Caucus. Not all Dems voted for Hillary and there will be more Dems who can’t stomach Biden – am really hoping someone else can win the nomination that I can support with my vote and financial contributions. That’s what a good Democrat is. One whose not afraid to write a sizeable check to good candidates and be objective enough to walk away from third rate pretenders.

  • …and enables the worst, most corrupt, self-centered “president” in American history a second term.
    Good luck with that.
    I don’t like Biden, either, but I can work with him.

  • You seem to have forgotten this is a team sport, not a tennis match. It would hardly matter which Democrat got the nomination. The future will be in the appointments both in courts and in cabinet slots. Letting Trump have a second chance to win is naval gazing on your part.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *