Government

Iowa's early voting kicks off for Nov. 6 elections

Democrats rally in Des Moines in advance of Trump's visit

Democrats Fred Hubbell (second from left) and Cindy Axne (right) pose Monday with a group of women wearing white suits — the uniform of suffragettes who campaigned for the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote — during an early-voting rally in downtown Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)
Democrats Fred Hubbell (second from left) and Cindy Axne (right) pose Monday with a group of women wearing white suits — the uniform of suffragettes who campaigned for the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote — during an early-voting rally in downtown Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa’s 2018 elections shifted into high gear Monday as early voters began making their choices for candidates seeking congressional, state and local offices as well as deciding whether to retain judges in a voting process that culminates Nov. 6.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell told umbrella-wielding backers who turned out for a soggy, foggy “first voter” rally in downtown Des Moines. The group waved banners, American flags and campaign signs before marching to the nearby Polk County auditor’s office to cast their ballots in the midterm election. “It starts today,” he said.

The capitol city event featuring Hubbell and 3rd U.S. House District Democratic candidate Cindy Axne was one of a dozen organized statewide by Democrats to rally supporters en route to their local polls.

Iowa Republicans did not announce any public events to mark Monday’s kickoff of early voting, although early voting was expected to be emphasized Tuesday at President Donald Trump’s rally in Council Bluffs.

Windsor Heights resident Allison Engel, who was among a group of women dressed as suffragettes for the early-voting rally, said she felt the costume was appropriate because she feels women are being left out of the political process now, similar to when they fought a century ago to win the right to vote.

“Women need to mobilize and vote and have a blue wave this November — no, yet this October,” Engel said.

Another early voter clad in a suffragette-style white suit, Jodi Stanfield, also of Windsor Heights, said she decided to “make a spectacle of it” and get dressed up for the occasion to call attention to the need for people to get involved in this year’s electoral process.

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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” she said of the political climate.

Hubbell said Democrats have a coordinated campaign with field offices, organizers and volunteers around the state to encourage early turnout. “We’re working to get every vote in every county that we can,” he said.

Axne noted the GOP-led Iowa Legislature and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds passed and signed legislation during the 2017 session that shortened the period for early absentee voting from 40 to 29 days this year, so candidates have a more-compressed time to turn out their supporters to vote.

“The heart and soul of this state is at risk. The heart and soul of this country is at risk,” she told the gathering. “This blue wave happens one person at a time. This doesn’t just happen because we say it. It’s every single vote at the ballot box.”

Iowans wishing to vote early can download an absentee ballot request form and mail it to their county auditor’s office or vote in person at county auditor offices, at a satellite voting location or at the polls on Election Day.

Requests for absentee ballots by mail must be received in your county auditor’s office by 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

To download an absentee ballot request form, and to see a variety of election information, visit voterreadyiowa.org.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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