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Voters Can Expect Changes to 2020 Elections Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 Election Virtual Seminar

May 25, 2020

I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual panel with Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Dallas County Auditor Julia Helm to discuss changes to the upcoming 2020 elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation covered temporary election changes across the state along with a closer look at rural and urban areas.


I applauded Secretary Pate when he took advantage of Iowa’s strong absentee voter program by mailing out absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter in the state. This approach has led to record breaking requests received by all county auditors for the June primary election. Another measure he took to keep voters and poll workers safe included utilizing the National Guard to provide facemasks, hand sanitizers and other PPE at voting locations throughout the state.


Another challenge became apparent when we realized some of the usual polling locations would be unable to open due to safety concerns and lack of poll workers. The biggest challenge will be social distancing in dense areas, but we want to ensure every voter has the opportunity to safely vote whether it is by mail, in our election office or on election day.


Auditor Helm has taken the approach to have regional polling locations throughout the county, with extra locations in rural areas to limit travel distances. The county she oversees does an incredible job with sending in absentee ballots and she hopes to have the same success as in years past. Even with multiple ways to vote, all of the panelists encourage voters to vote by mail. If you choose to vote in person, be safe and kind towards election workers as we all navigate this new normal.

See the complete webinar below:


Find other policy information regarding COVID-19 here.

The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization.

Jamie Fitzgerald

Jamie Fitzgerald has served as Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections since January 2007. Fitzgerald manages a staff of 49 full-time employees in five departments. His office is responsible for a wide variety of functions, ranging from paying all of Polk County's bills to conducting elections in Iowa's largest county.