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New Iowa voting laws, redistricting causes confusion at polls

Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jamie Fitzgerald said his office worked diligently to ensure voters were well-notified of any precinct changes.

POLK COUNTY, Iowa — Iowans now know which candidates will appear on November's ballot, battling throughout the summer for their vote. Results from the primary elections on June 7 surprised some voters, but so did new voting laws and the effects of redistricting

"We've had some changes with the redistricting," said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. "So it's going to take a little while for folks to get comfortable with the new sites. That's why we've been putting out the message early on about having a plan to vote successfully." 

Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jamie Fitzgerald said his office worked diligently in partnership with the secretary of state's office to ensure voters were well-notified of any precinct changes months prior to Tuesday's primary election.

"By law, we contract with the Secretary of State's office to send every voter in Polk County a postcard saying, 'Here's your location. And here's the Voter Ready website,'" Fitzgerald said.

Despite his and his colleagues' efforts, Fitzgerald said these big changes weren't clear to all Iowa voters. 

"There is probably a case in Iowa where someone went to the wrong location at the wrong time."

Fitzgerald noted there was a lot of guidance needed at polling centers to help find the correct polling location for voters, but poll workers noticed redistricting changes weren't the only reasons some voters were thrown for a loop. 

"We had a lot of confusion, a lot of anger at the polling sites at times where people didn't want to declare a party. They wanted to participate in both the Democrat and Republican primaries. Under Iowa law, you have to pick one or the other. And so sometimes they picked one and they wanted to come back and pick another one. So it just doesn't work that way unfortunately under Iowa law," Fitzgerald said. 

Fitzgerald said the election was a good run-through before the November election. He encouraged people to organize their voting plans before the leaves hit the ground. 

"Get those requests in in August if you want to vote by mail," Fitzgerald said. "Voting will start in October." 

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