By Jim Magdefrau
Ballots for the 2022 general election starting to come into the Benton County Auditor’s Office this week, and at a pace that shows more people are voting by mail.
Benton County Auditor Hayley Rippel pointed out that with fewer days for absentee ballots, this has not slowed down the turnout.
She said, “Back in 2018, on the first day we could officially mail out the requests, we had 778, and on October 19, which was this year’s first day to legally mail them out, we had 1,129. So every election we have more people who vote by mail, and I think now it will continue to grow. After Covid and people voted by mail for the first time and realized the process was fairly smooth, they will continue to vote this way. Our traffic in the office at the counter has been steady also.”
The narrowed window for voting has been helpful, Rippel observed, “We’ve had that extra few weeks to process the requests, get them in the system, get the labels ready, and have them ready to mail out this morning,” Rippel said in a note to the media. “We haven’t had to rush through things.”
When it comes to elections it may seem as if it all happens at the Auditor’s Office in a very narrow window of time, but that is far from the case, according to Rippel.
“Once we have proofed the ballots numerous times and receive them in office, all election equipment goes through vigorous logic and accuracy testing prior to the election,” she said. “We want to assure everyone that we are secure; you can’t tamper with the results.”
While there have been claims of election fraud over the past couple of years, none have been proven and Rippel said that voters can rest assured that Benton County elections are secure.
“No machines are hooked up to the internet,” she said. “It is absolutely important that everyone understand that; we are secure here and we have taken many proactive steps to protect elections by complying with Iowa’s Election Administration Cybersecurity Administrative Rules. Iowa also conducts post-election audits. All 99 counties have an Incident Response Plan and county-specific security protocols in place as well.”
Benton County has just over 18,000 registered voters.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.