Iowa primary voting is open

Now is the time to decide who will be on the ballot for this year’s general election in November.

The primary is June 3, but early voting is open.

A primary is to nominate a candidate for a certain political party, so voters must be registered as one of the parties to vote, said Webster County Auditor Carol Messerly.

But changing your party is not difficult in Iowa. People who want to declare or change their party can do so when they come in to vote, Messerly said, and can also change it at the poll on election day.

“Then they will be that party until after the (primary) election,” she said.

After that, voters can change back if they choose to.

In Webster County, Democratic-registered voters will have five choices for the Webster County Recorder position, while Republicans can vote for one of the five candidates running for U.S. Senate.

County recorder candidate Shari Burke is unopposed in the Republican primary. In the senate race, the sole Democratic candidate is Bruce Braley.

Governor Terry Branstad also has a primary challenger, Tom Hoefling of Lohrville.

Candidates must receive at least 35 percent of the primary vote to win their party’s nomination.

If no one reaches this threshold, “The party has to reconvene the county convention and nominate somebody,” said Messerly.

In that case, the decision would be made by the party delegates instead of an open vote.

The county convention would need to nominate someone by Aug. 22, while the state convention, which would pick a senate candidate, has a deadline of Aug. 7.

The convention can also reconvene to nominate someone for a vacant position, she said. For example, there are no Republican candidates on the ballot for County Attorney, and no Democratic candidates for District 1 Supervisor.

The last day to pre-register to vote for the Primary Election is May 23 and the Webster County Auditor’s office will be open until 5 p.m.

Absentee ballots for the Primary Election can be cast at the auditor’s office, Webster County Courthouse, 701 Central Ave., through 4:30 p.m. June 2. Absentee ballots being returned by mail must be postmarked by midnight, June 2.

The auditor’s office will also be open on May 31, a Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Voter turnout is often lower for the primary, Messerly said.

In November, District 4 County Supervisor Merrill Leffler, a Republican, will run for re-election against Rod Halvorson, a Democrat. County Attorney Cori Kuhn Coleman, Treasurer Jan Messerly and District 1 Supervisor Keith Dencklau are unopposed for re-election.