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Stories about Iowa

Are results reported on election night coming from in-person or absentee/mail-in votes?

According to a projection from The New York Times, 80 million people will vote by mail in 2020, that number is more than twice the amount of people who did so in 2016. Given that absentee ballots take longer to process and count than in-person ballots, some voters wonder whether election night results reflect both sources of votes.

Election results reported on election night include a mixture of absentee/mail-in and in-person votes. However, many states will not complete the counting of absentee votes on election night. While some states only count absentee ballots that arrive after November 3, 2020 but are postmarked by that date, and other states are legally bound to wait until Election Day to begin processing absentee/mail-in ballots.

State laws set different reporting requirements for absentee/mail-in votes on election night. The most common method is for each precinct or voting district to add together in-person and absentee votes and report the total to the state elections agency. A few states create special precincts where absentee/mail-in votes are counted separately from in-person votes. For example, in Iowa, state law requires each county to have both an absentee ballot and special voters precinct.

Unofficial election night results are often displayed alongside the percentage of precincts reporting, which is intended as a measure of how far vote counting has progressed. The percentage of precincts reporting is not the same as the percentage of the total vote that has been counted. Precincts differ in size, meaning that one precinct might report a far greater number of votes than another. In addition, some states include a precinct in its percentage of precincts reporting if the precinct has reported any results at all, even if it is far from completing the vote count.

Additional Reading:



Steve King (R) becomes second member of Congress to lose a primary in 2020

State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) defeated Rep. Steve King (R) in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. As of 10:30 p.m. Central Time, Feenstra had received 40.6% of the vote to King’s 38.7%. No other candidate had received more than 10% of the vote.
Feenstra will face Democratic nominee J.D. Scholten in the November general election. The last Democrat to win election from the 4th district was Neal Smith (D) in 1992.
King is the second member of the U.S. House to lose a primary this year. Marie Newman defeated Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District in March.
In 2018, four members of the House were defeated in primaries: Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).


Theresa Greenfield wins Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Iowa

Theresa Greenfield defeated Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, and Eddie Mauro to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa. As of 9:30 p.m. Central Time, Greenfield had received 44.9% of the vote with 6% of precincts reporting. Franken followed with 26.6%, while Graham had 15.6%, and Mauro had 11.7%. A fifth candidate, Cal Woods, withdrew on May 4 and endorsed Franken. Greenfield will face first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in the general election.
Greenfield will face incumbent Joni Ernst (R) in the general election. Ernst was first elected in 2014, winning 52% of the vote.


Four Iowa Supreme Court justices face a retention election in November


Four Iowa Supreme Court justices will face retention elections on November 3, 2020. The justices facing retention are Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, Christopher McDonald, and Thomas Waterman. All four justices were appointed by a Republican governor.

Currently, six justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while one was appointed by a Democratic governor.

In Iowa, judicial nominees are selected by the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission puts together a list of candidates they have determined to be qualified and then submits this list to the governor. The Governor must then choose one of the candidates from the list. The justice must stand for a retention election one year after the appointment. If retained, justices serve for eight years with a mandatory retirement age of 72.

Additional Reading:
Judicial selection in Iowa
Susan Christensen
Edward Mansfield
Christopher McDonald
Thomas Waterman



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