WATERLOO – Drop boxes for absentee ballots might still be possible as county auditors are seeking clarification to the Iowa Secretary of State’s instructions that such boxes aren’t allowed under state law.
“The law, I would say, is open to interpretation. We, as county auditors, didn’t feel the law should be interpreted that way, and we are trying to get further clarification from the Secretary of State’s Office, and then we will see where we stand,” said Grant Veeder, Black Hawk County’s auditor and election commissioner.
Auditors are also working with legal staff for the Iowa Association of Counties.
Some Iowa counties have used the boxes for years, and this year Black Hawk and a number of other counties had planned to join their ranks for the November general election as a way to alleviate stress on the post office, which is expecting a deluge of absentee ballots in the wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Veeder’s office was making arrangements to bolt collection box to the sidewalk near the courthouse entrance, next to the mail boxes.
“There is a security camera trained right on that spot that gives 24-hour surveillance,” Veeder said. “I would see it as an extension to our office, like a post office collection box is an extension of the post office.”
They were also considering a second box for Cedar Falls.
But during a training session two weeks ago, officials from the Secretary of State’s Office said there was no provision under Iowa law to allow for drop boxes for absentee boxes.
The Black Hawk County elections office had already received more than 20,000 requests for absentee ballots as of Thursday, Veeder said. His office will start sending out absentee ballots on Oct. 5, which is also the same day early voting will begin.
Even without the drop boxes, voters will still be able to return their ballots by mail or drop them off in person at the Auditor’s Office during business hours.
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