DES MOINES, Iowa – On Wednesday, AARP released a poll conducted by Seltzer & Company that shows broad support for absentee voting among Iowans 50-years old or older broadly support absentee voting.
In March, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office sent an absentee ballot request form to every registered voter for the June 2 primary in response to COVID-19. He partnered with AARP to encourage older Iowans to vote by mail to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among Iowa’s most vulnerable residents.
As a result of the absentee ballot push, Iowa broke a voter participation record for a June primary with 529,586 ballots cast, and almost 78 percent of those ballots being absentee.
According to this poll, 69 percent of Iowans 50+ supported Pate’s action while only 25 percent opposed it.
When the Iowa Legislature resumed their session, after suspending it due to COVID-19, they passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Roby Smith, R-Davenport, requiring Pate to have Legislative Council approval to use his emergency powers to alter election procedures, such as sending absentee voting ballot requests to every registered voter and extending the absentee voting period. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed that bill into law.
In light of COVID-19, this new law prompted county auditors in Linn, Johnson, and Polk counties to announce they will send absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter in their county. Something Iowa’s rural counties can’t afford to do. Currently, this gives Democrats an advantage as urban counties have a higher number of registered Democrats while smaller, rural counties typically see more registered Republicans.
The AARP poll showed that 63 percent of Iowans 50+ support county auditors sending absentee ballot request forms while 41 percent oppose. They noted that support is strong across Iowa, including cities, 73 percent to 24 percent, suburbs, 66 percent to 32 percent, towns, 57 percent to 35 percent, and rural areas, 56 percent to 38 percent.
Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have expressed concern about potential voting fraud occurring with mail-in ballots. While the mainstream press and Democrats quickly dismiss this concern, four men in Paterson, N.J. were recently charged with voter fraud connected to mail-in voting in a special municipal election. In that election, one in five ballots were rejected as fraudulent.
Those polled in the AARP poll saw spreading COVID-19 as a more significant threat than voter fraud – 57 percent to 36 percent.
Also, only 11 percent of those polled supported restricting access to absentee voting.
While closer, 48 percent of Iowans 50+ say they prefer to vote absentee in November while 44 percent say they prefer voting at their polling place.
According to exit polls in 2016, Trump won among Iowans age 50 to 64 by a 51 percent to 46 percent margin over Hillary Clinton. He won by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin among Iowans 65 and older.
Selzer & Co. interviewed 804 registered Iowa voters age 50 and over on July 6-8, 2020, including 91% saying they will “definitely” vote in the November election. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent.
Read the poll toplines below: