All Active Registered Voters in Iowa to Receive Absentee Ballot Request Form for the Nov. 3 Election

In advance of the June 2 primary, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) issued a directive providing for the mailing of absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter, and extending the absentee vote period to 40 days.  That seemed to work well, as a record number of voters turned out.  However the legislature entered into the fray, passing legislation, HF2486, which put some limits on Pate's ability to act unilaterally, requiring approval of the Legislative Council.  On July 17, Pate signed a directive, as approved by the Legislative Council, to send out absentee ballot request forms for the Nov. 3 general election as in June; the absentee vote period for mail ballots remains at 29 days. 

*Note: On June 25, 2020 Gov. Reynolds signed into law   See: Ian Richardson.  "Reynolds signs law putting restrictions on secretary of state's power during elections."  Des Moines Register, June 24, 2020.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate
Media Contact: Kevin Hall, Communications Director
April 22, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Absentee voting period begins Thursday; Secretary Pate encourages Iowans to vote from home

DES MOINES – The absentee voting period for mailed ballots in Iowa’s June primary begins this Thursday, April 23. Secretary of State Paul Pate and county auditors across the state are encouraging Iowans to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Secretary Pate is sending absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter in the state. The form should arrive in Iowans’ mailboxes next week and will include pre-paid postage for returning it to their county auditor’s office.

“Absentee voting from home is safe and secure, and this is the best way to participate in the June primary election,” Secretary Pate said. “We have measures in place to ensure the integrity of the ballot while maintaining social distancing. I encourage all eligible Iowans who want to vote in the primary to use the absentee method.”

Once voters receive their absentee ballot request form in the mail, they should fill out and mail it promptly. Iowans can also download the request form directly from the Iowa Secretary of State website, Requests must be received by the county auditor’s office by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

Primary elections are intended for members of the Republican and Democratic parties only. No Party voters who choose to request a party’s ballot will have their voter registration officially changed to that political party.

Secretary Pate expanded the absentee voting period for mailed ballots in the June primary to 40 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The in-person absentee voting period begins Monday, May 4.

For more information about the June 2 primary, visit

A picture of the front and back covers of the absentee ballot request form mailing is available for your use at this link and this link.

A video of the ballot request forms being printed at a factory is available for your use at this link.
Secretary Pate is voting via absentee ballot in the June primary. A video of him filling out his absentee ballot request form is available for your use at this link.


[ed note: Around 2 million request forms were sent out for primary. The cost was $650,000, paid with federal HAVA CARES Act funds.]

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate
Media Contact: Kevin Hall, Communications Director
June 3, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Iowa surpasses 500,000 voters in June primary, shattering turnout records

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announces the state shattered turnout records for a June primary Tuesday night after more than 500,000 voters cast ballots.

“The credit goes to Iowa voters, poll workers and county auditors,” Secretary Pate said. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and protests going on across the state, Iowans made their voices heard in record numbers. I am so proud of everyone who participated and the people behind the scenes in all 99 counties that made it happen. I also want to thank Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Iowa National Guard for delivering masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to the counties so Iowans could vote safely at the polls.”

The previous high for a June primary was set in 1994, when 449,490 Iowans voted. Every county will now conduct post-election audits in randomly selected precincts to help ensure the integrity of the vote. All results remain unofficial until canvassing is completed, and the results are certified later this month.

You can view the unofficial results for every county at this link.
A video clip of Secretary Pate’s quote is available at this link. An audio clip is available by clicking here.
signed into law by Gov. Reynolds on June 25, 2020...
HF2486: an Act relating to the conduct of elections, including emergency powers, procedures relating to electors, and the use of a county seal on materials related to elections.
Iowa Democratic Party
July 7, 2020

Iowa Dems Prioritize Safe Vote by Mail in November

DES MOINES — As COVID-19 continues to affect communities across Iowa, Democratic leaders are working to ensure that all Iowans can safely exercise their right to vote in November. Iowans overwhelmingly voted by mail in the record-setting June primary and set an example for safe election procedures during a global pandemic. In response, Republicans in the state legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds passed a bill to suppress Iowans’ right to vote.

While Republicans are trying to create even more barriers to voting in the midst of a global pandemic, Democrats are focused on expanding vote-by-mail and safe election measures.

As requests for absentee ballots begin, here’s a look about what Iowans are saying about safely voting by mail and the GOP’s attempts to dismantle it:

Des Moines Register Editorial Board: Message from GOP lawmakers to Iowans: We don’t want you voting
“Republican state lawmakers are on a mission: Make it as difficult as possible for Iowans to vote.
“Their latest effort to fulfill this mission came in the form of a last-minute 30-page amendment to a previously simple, noncontroversial bill. Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, said the new legislation, passed along party lines after a contentious late-night debate, is intended to support “safe, secure and reliable elections.”
“Iowa already has safe, secure and reliable elections. The goal is voter suppression.”

N’West Iowa Review Editorial Board: Suppressing the vote
“Why is having more people vote a bad thing?
“Welcome to the twisted world of electoral politics as some politicians once again try to suppress voting, even after a smooth primary conducted primarily through mail voting that set a record for voter participation.
“The June 2 Iowa primary was a great success despite the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the efforts of Iowa secretary of state Paul Pate, county auditors and election workers.
“A record 520,000 ballots were cast, shattering the old record of 450,000 set in 1994. Good news, right? Outright amazing, actually, with the threat of COVID-19 making voters wary about visiting courthouses and other polling places.”

Iowa Starting Line: Republicans Screwed Themselves By Attacking Iowa Absentee Ballot Efforts
“Their latest scheme to make it more difficult to vote in Iowa is about to blow up in their faces in spectacular fashion, and they have no one but themselves to blame for it. […]
“In the future, Iowa Republican legislators would be wise to question the big ideas coming from Sen. Smith and anyone else who had a major hand in passing this short-sighted, vindictive legislation. That is, if they’re still in power after the 2020 election.”

President of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors Roxanna Moritz: “County auditors, as local commissioners of elections, are baffled by this. The 2020 primary was very successful, based on a variety of metrics, largely due to the steps taken by the secretary. Counties experienced record or near-record turnout. Election Day went very smoothly. Results were rapidly available. Why would the state want to cripple the process that led to such success?”

Marion, IA Voter: “This bill [signed by Governor Kim Reynolds] is in lock step with Trump’s position that in effect opposes maximizing Americans’ participation in our right to vote, especially in a time of serious virus concerns. It seems to me that Trump and Reynolds saw a voting participation solution in place and decided to put barriers and gaps in the way of Americans.”

State Senator Pam Jochum: “What are you afraid of? That more people in this state might engage in a constitutional right to cast a vote?”

O’Brien County Auditor Barb Rohwer“There has been no problem with people casting ballots intended for other people. … I really don’t know why they decided to do this.”

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller: “The law is fixing something that isn’t broken.”

KHQA: “That primary shattered turn out records. 80% of voters sending their ballots by mail, a process made easier by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate sending mail-in ballot request forms to every registered voter in an effort to encourage absentee voting because of pandemic concerns at the polls.”

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate
Media Contact: Kevin Hall, Communications Director
July 17, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Statement from Secretary Pate regarding statewide mailing of absentee ballot request forms

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate releases the following statement regarding his emergency directive to conduct a statewide mailing of absentee ballot request forms to Iowa’s active registered voters for the November general election:
“I want Iowa voters and poll workers to be safe during this pandemic while we conduct a clean, fair and secure election. After consulting with all 99 county auditors, I believe the best way to accomplish that goal is by mailing an absentee ballot request form to every active registered voter in the state. Voters will still have the option of casting their ballot in person and we will provide resources to protect Iowans who choose that method. This process worked great in the June primary and I believe it will work in the general election.” – Paul Pate, Iowa Secretary of State


Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate
Media Contact: Kevin Hall, Communications Director
July 17, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Secretary Pate partners with security experts to prepare counties for 2020 elections 

DES MOINES – The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office is conducting a series of workshops through next week to help counties prepare for the 2020 elections. The Incident Response Plan seminars take county auditors and staff, IT administrators and emergency management coordinators through a variety of scenarios that could disrupt elections. The goal is to ensure all 99 counties are prepared for November 3.
Election administrators prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Scenarios could include natural disasters, power outages and cyberattacks. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed election cybersecurity out of the daily news, it remains a concern for officials across the country.
“Working with federal, state and county agencies assures Iowans that they’re getting the best protection possible, the A-Team I call it,” Secretary Pate said. “When we work with the Iowa Department Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our other partners on the county level, we are giving them all the resources possible to assure them that the elections are being done with the most efficient process and safeguarding their vote.”
The virtual workshops are being conducted with the assistance of Iowa-based information security services firm Pratum. Six workshops are scheduled and will run through August 6. The Secretary of State’s Office, state agencies and county officials also participated in a nationwide preparedness exercise on Tuesday that was organized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Cooperation between government agencies is crucial for protecting elections.
“One of our key missions is to support local emergency managers as they prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters of all kinds that may impact their communities. We are proud to partner with the Iowa Secretary of State because we want Iowans to be confident that whether they mail in a ballot or step in a voting booth, their vote is secure and counted in Iowa,” said Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, whose staff facilitated preparedness exercises in Iowa on Tuesday.
Threats to elections are constantly evolving, so ensuring Iowa is prepared ahead of time protects the integrity of the vote.
“Voters can be assured that we’re working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, all the time, because their vote is that important to us. Collectively all of us together can make sure Iowans know their vote will be counted,” Secretary Pate added.
Election Day in Iowa is Tuesday, November 3. Absentee ballots will be available beginning October 5, but Iowans can request an absentee ballot now. Visit for more information.
******Video/audio clips from Joyce Flinn, Director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Secretary of State Paul Pate is available for your use by clicking here. After the soundbites is b-roll of Flinn and Pate meeting at the State Emergency Operations Center and staff from the Secretary of State’s Office conducting virtual workshops with counties.