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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Absentee voting to kick off Sept. 27

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Though the general election is 47 days away, absentee voters can cast their votes as early as Sept. 27.

To do so, individuals must request an absentee ballot from the auditor's office in their county of residence.

In Clay County, individuals may pick up an absentee ballot application from the auditor's office in the Clay County Administration building, print it from www.co.clay.ia.us/offices/auditor/index.... or obtain it from representatives of the political party of their choice.

"We have to have their signature and address of residence," Clay County Auditor Marge Pitts said.

Military personnel and overseas Americans can request absentee ballots via email, and Pitts' office must send ballots to those individuals by Saturday, to comply with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

"For anybody in the military or outside the U.S., we can email ballots to them," election deputy Audrey Coffman said. "Only if they are in eminent danger can military personnel email them back. Otherwise, they have to mail them back."

Online, individuals can use www.fvap.gov to learn more about absentee voting from outside the country, including which areas are considered in eminent danger.

Individuals who are not overseas but wish to vote absentee can receive their ballots as early as Sept. 27. Pitts' office must respond to absentee ballot requests in a timely manner.

"It is our responsibility to receive applications and mail ballots out within 24 hours once we have the ballots," Pitts said. "The post office is treating mail specially if it's a ballot. It will get priority processing. We pay postage to get the ballot back."

Her office is also responsible for tracking applications.

"When the election is over and we've gone over the ballots, it's up to us to contact the person and ask why we didn't get it back," Pitts said.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 370 absentee ballots had been requested. That number is expected to climb above 1,000 and could be as high as 2,500, due to the presidential election, Pitts said.

She also clarified that satellite voting sites are available by petition or the discretion of a county auditor. While such voting sites are sometimes established at colleges, that does not mean any college student can vote there, but only those registered to vote in that area.

Satellite voting is not currently available in Clay County.

Nonetheless, Pitts' office is preparing for the election, which will feature 30 ballot styles in Clay County alone. Those ballots must be accounted for at all times.

"As soon as we get the ballots, every morning we count them and every evening we count them," Pitts said.

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