LULAC, League of Women Voters, mark start of early voting

Nick Salazar, state director of LULAC, addressing March to the Polls participants.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–The League of United Latin American Citizens and League of Women Voters marked the start of early voting Oct. 5 with a march to the polls. About 40 local residents attended the event, which aimed to raise awareness for voting options this election season.

LULAC State Director and Muscatine resident Nick Salazar welcomed the gathering, saying, “today, we’re going to celebrate the start of early voting in Iowa and we’re going to do it by marching to highlight the importance of voting, no matter who you’re voting for.” He then introduced several speaker who shared their reasons for voting this year.

After a brief prayer from First Christian Pastor Ryan Downing, Sue Johanson, representing the League of Women Voters, spoke about how this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of woman having the right to vote. She emphasized that while the 19th Amendment let women vote and the Voting Rights act of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination in voting, that citizens must continue to preserve these rights by voting in all elections, learning about candidates and the offices they will fil,l and by opposing practices that suppress voter participation.

Daniel Salazar, a member of LULAC’s Muscatine chapter, focused on the importance of young people voting. He emphasized that voting lets people put their rights into action, and that it allows even youth to become a part of the process. He also encouraged people to get more involved by considering running for office in future races: “You can run for office–you can be what you want to be. It’s ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” he emphasized.

Finally, Karen Cooney, service chair for the League of Women Voters, reminded everyone that they can help shape the world around them simply by voting candidates who focus on issues they care about, “voting expands your personal sphere of control,” she stated. She also explained that she saw voting as a way to honor veterans who protected our country and those who worked to extend the vote to all people.

The group them marched down to the County Auditors Office, chanting, “this is what democracy looks like,” and singing songs about the right to vote. County Auditor Leslie Soule met them outside of her office to share how people can vote in Muscatine County.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people will vote absentee. Soule said her office mailed out around 3,7000 absentee ballots Oct. 5 to those who already requested them. Anyone voting absentee may mail their ballot back or deliver it to the auditor’s office in person before Nov. 3.

For those wanting to vote early, they may come to the auditors office Monday through Friday 8 a. m. to 4 p m. through Nov. 2 and on the two Saturdays proceeding the election at the same times. The Auditor’s Office will also have a satellite locations at the West Liberty Public Library from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m. Oct. 13 and the Muscatine Community College McAvoy Center from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m. Oct. 15 that will also serve as early voting polling places.

Finally, people may vote at the normal precinct on Nov. 3 as well. However, those who usually vote at Lutheran Living (Fruitland Precinct Two and Lake Precinct) will vote at Mullford Church instead due to COVID-19 restrictions and those who vote in Goshen Township and Atalissa will vote at the West Liberty Community Center due to a shortage of precinct officials.