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Iowa legislative panel approves emergency election measures

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- The Iowa Legislative Council has approved several proposals by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to alleviate a last-minute crunch on Election Day.

First, county auditors will be able to begin opening absentee ballots the weekend before the election. The Council unanimously approved the proposal that allows auditors to open absentee ballots starting October 31.

Current Iowa law allows election officials to begin tabulating ballots the day before the election. This emergency directive, which only applies to the November general election, is designed to help county auditors prepare for what's anticipated to be a record number of absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Friday, nearly 584,000 Iowans have requested an absentee ballot, according to Pate. That's five times the amount of ballot applications received around this time during the 2016 election.

The emergency directive will also allow voters to use a driver's license for their identification even if it expired this year. Nursing home residents may receive ballots by mail rather than have them hand-delivered as required by state law. Pate will also allowed to move a polling place in an emergency.

For everything you need to know about voting in the November election, click here.

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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