on Friday, October 16, 2020
With the election nearing, we wanted to interview an EPI employee who spent some time as an election poll worker. See what she had to share on how she started this journey, what ways you can vote, and what to expect.
Tell us How You Got Started.
My name is Hether Gustafson and I have been fortunate to work at EPI for a few years now. When the pandemic hit, I too experienced that paralyzing feeling of stress, worry, and lack of control. I decided I wanted to help, and one of my efforts was serving as an election poll worker because a large amount of typical workers tend to fall in the at-risk demographic. My experience included a four hour training, a 16 hour work day, and a post-election audit.
What Ways Can You Vote?
From a safety perspective, voters are given a few options to turn in their vote. You can visit your polling precinct (found here) or you can request an absentee ballot by the given deadline of October 24, 2020 by 5:00 pm. This is very much an individual decision and should be chosen thoughtfully.
What Can You Expect if You Vote on Site?
As someone who worked at an onsite polling location in Bremer county, safety was the top priority on election day. The county provided several safety measures to accommodate voters:
- Frequent sanitizing done by the election workers
- Floor stickers to practice social distancing
- Ballot stations were spread out as much as possible
- Numerous signs of safe social distancing and COVID-19 recommendations
- Election workers were masked and given several other PPE items (gloves, sanitizer, shields, etc.)
- Touchless registration which included ID scanners and plexi-glass
- Pens were not reused before sanitizing
- Ballot secrecy covers were disposable (not reused)
- Curbside voting was an option for voters who could not physically make it into their polling location
*Though Hether's experience comes from Bremer county, these are statewide protocols and trainings for all polling stations.
What Can You Expect if You Vote by Mail?
If you're a registered voter, you've likely received mail with step by step directions on how to request your mail in ballot. They make this really simple, you fill out your information and mail it back, no postage needed, in the provided return envelope. If you have not received a mailed form, click here to request your ballot online. You must send in or request online a ballot no later than October 24, by 5:00 pm to secure your absentee ballot.
Once your request is received, the county auditor will mail the voter a ballot along with instructions on returning it safely. You may return the ballot in the mail with the provided envelope and pre-paid postage, but this must be postmarked no later than November 2. Another option is to deliver your ballot to the county auditor's office before the polls close on election day, November 3.
Whether you turn your ballot into the county auditor office or mail it, sos.iowa.gov allows you to track your absentee ballot's status by entering your first and last name and birthdate.
Your Vote Counts.
Regardless of your chosen method of voting, we hope you, our staff, and our persons served can enjoy peace of mind that they can still participate in a safe election during the pandemic.