Early voting begins today


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To help fix recent lower-than-expected election turnout numbers, Johnson County officials are again turning to the option of early voting, starting today.

With the effort, officials say they are hoping to see a record turnout at the 15 voting locations.

“It gives people an extra opportunity to vote,” said Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert. “We’ve seen such low voter turnout it’s great to see people be interested.”

Of the 27,581 total ballots requested, 25,974 early and provisional ballots were collected by mail or at satellite location for the 2010 election.

Calling record voter turnout percentages of 10 percent “sad,” Weipert said he would like to see numbers improve across the board, reaching upwards of 80-90 percent.

Deputy Auditor of Elections Kingsley Botchway said he supports early voting but also believes in supporting those people who choose to hold their vote until after campaign forums.

“I welcome people who want to wait for forums because it does provide an atmosphere to see [possible] City Council members,” Botchway said. “Hopefully, that accountability shows who will be better in the position.”

Using a face-to-face approach for his campaign, Botchway has focused on door knocking, meet and greets, attending events and pairing with local businesses to address people about his message of incorporating all areas, and all people, of Iowa City into the governmental system.

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Mims, who is also running for an at-large seat on the council, said supporting a diverse community is a major part of her campaign as well. She is also focused on financial and neighborhood stability and sustainability.

Many other candidates emphasized the benefits of early voting. Mims said she thinks early voting is “great” because it allows people “to have multiple options early on at different locations where it’s convenient for people to get out and vote and hopefully increase the number of voters.”

Iowa City resident Rockne Cole, who is running for an at-large seat, said his campaign initiatives include tactics such as door knocking and meeting with groups to spread his message of creating a sustainable and walkable city, along with progressive, cooperative entrepreneurship.

Iowa City native Catherine Champion, who is competing for an at-large seat, said she supports early voting.

“I think we have to do anything we can in our power to allow people to vote because that is really the basis of our community,” the downtown business owner said.

As owner of Cheap and Chic and Catherine’s, Champion is focused on supporting local businesses and urban growth. In addition to both cultural and educational diversity, historic neighborhood preservation and maintaining a safe and healthy environment are of priority.

Iowa City resident Royceann Porter, who is running for the District B seat, has been doing much of her campaigning via social media, extending her ideas such as embracing Iowa City’s diversity, establishing a better quality of life, and providing affordable housing for all. 

Incumbent Terry Dickens, who is running to keep the District B seat, said that early voting is one way to encourage people to vote, as it allows citizens to vote when it is convenient for them.

“You hear people complaining about things, [but] they’re the people that didn’t vote,” Dickens, a co-owner of Herteen and Stocker Jewelers said. “So I think it’s very important to get out and vote and get the people to choose [the best representatives].”

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