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Your voting questions, answered: How do you surrender your ballot and how can you track a ballot?

The election happening during a pandemic, which brings a big push for voting by mail. Here's how you can track your ballot, and what to do if you change your mind.

IOWA, USA — Here at local 5, we want you to be informed about voting in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

How do I surrender my absentee ballot?

In an effort to cut down on long lines amid a global pandemic, there's been a big push this year to vote early, and to do it by mail.  But what happens if you request an absentee ballot, but later decide to vote in person instead?

Dallas County Auditor Julia Helm says you can bring your absentee ballot with you to your precinct when you vote in person and surrender it there.  

If something has happened to your absentee ballot (i.e. getting ripped up or destroyed somehow), you can still go to the polls and vote.  Just find a precinct captain, and they can cancel your ballot out for you.

Whatever you decide, you'll have to be registered to vote.  If you're not sure if you're registered, you can click/tap here to find out.

Voters are encouraged to register in advance.  You can register to vote at the precinct on election day, but you'll need to bring some extra things with you:

  • Proof of identity, which can be shown with any of the following:
    • Driver's license
    • U.S. passport
    • Military ID
    • Iowa non-driver ID card
    • Out-of-state driver's license/non-driver ID card
    • Student ID issued by a high school or college
    • Employer-issued ID card
    • Tribal ID
  • Proof of residence, which can be shown with any of the following:
    • Driver's license (if it shows your current address)
    • Residential lease
    • Utility bill
    • Paycheck
    • Bank statement
    • Government check or other government documents

If you don't have any of those things, you can also have a voter at your precinct attest for you.  In a case of attestment, you and the attester will be required to sign an oath that everything said is true.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, falsely attesting is considered registration fraud.  That's a class D felony, which can result in fines up to $7,500 and up to five years in prison.

While voting in person is an option, it's important to remember that there will be fewer polling locations open this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Auditor Helm says Dallas County will have a total of 24 precincts in this election, as opposed to the 34 precincts in a normal year.

If you want to vote in person and want to know where your polling place is, click/tap here.

Because of the threat of COVID-19, there's been a push for young and healthy people to sign on as precinct workers.  It's a long day, but you'll get paid for your efforts.  

Click/tap here to sign up.

How can I track my absentee ballot?

The Iowa Secretary of State website has an absentee ballot tracker function; all you have to do is enter your legal first and last name and your date of birth and you'll be able to see when your ballot request was processed, when the auditor will send it, and whether or not they've received the completed ballot after you fill it out.

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