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Iowa election chief urges voting by mail in wake of outbreak

April 22, 2020 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa residents can avoid gathering at polling places for the June 2 primary election and instead vote by mail, according to state Secretary of State Paul Pate.

The absentee voting period for mailed primary ballots begins Thursday. Pate said in a news release Wednesday that voting from home is safest way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We have measures in place to ensure the integrity of the ballot while maintaining social distancing,” Pate said. “I encourage all eligible Iowans who want to vote in the primary to use the absentee method.”

Pate is sending absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter in the state. The form should arrive in residents’ mailboxes next week and will include pre-paid postage for returning it to county auditors’ offices. Requests must be received by by 5 p.m. on May 22.

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