Iowa voters age 50+ rate election officials higher than Trump or Iowa’s senators

The Iowa State Association of County Auditors is warning the state faces a “dire” situation that could lead to errors in the voting process this November and delays in the delivery of ballots. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Iowa registered voters age 50 and older give higher job approval ratings to state and local election officials than to the governor, either of Iowa’s U.S. senators or their local legislators, according to a new poll conducted for AARP Iowa and released Wednesday.

The poll also showed a majority of Iowa voters in this age group support elections officials mailing out absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters before the November election.

“… What we saw from the poll shows a very crystal clear message, which is Iowans support absentee voting, and many Iowans plan on voting absentee this November,” AARP Iowa State Director Brad Anderson said Wednesday during a news conference.

Anderson said AARP’s goal is to “once again see record number of older voters in Iowa vote in the upcoming election.”

Nearly 7 in 10 voters in this age group said they approved of the secretary of state’s decision to mail absentee ballot request applications to all registered voters before the June primary election. That was not the majority opinion of the Iowa Legislature, which voted last month to restrict the Republican secretary of state’s emergency powers to change election rules.

A majority of 63% said they support their county auditor sending absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the county, with 31% opposed and 6% not sure.

A majority also said they thought threat of spreading COVID-19 among people who go to polling places was a greater threat to the state (57%) than the threat of voter fraud from absentee ballots. Thirty-six percent thought fraud was the greater threat.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats or no-party voters to see fraud as a greater threat than COVID-19. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans saw voter fraud as the greater threat compared to 8% of Democrats and 34% of no-party voters.

A majority of Republicans (54%) also oppose having county auditors send out absentee ballot request forms to all county registered voters. However, a plurality of Republicans, 47% approved of the secretary of state’s action before the primary, compared to 44% opposed.

While 51% of voters age 50-plus said they prefer to vote in person at their polling place on Election Day compared to 42% who prefer absentee voting, the pandemic appears to have changed older voters’ plans for the November election.  Nearly half, 48%, said they would submit an absentee ballot either by mail or by delivering it in person to the auditor’s office. Another 5% said they would cast a ballot at a satellite polling place or at the county auditor’s office before Election day. That left 44% who said they would vote in person at a polling place on Election Day.

Job approval ratings high for elections officials

Seven out of 10 registered voters in this age group said they approved of how their county auditor is handling their job, with 6% disapproving 24% not sure.  A majority, 58%, approved of Iowa secretary of state Paul Pate’s handling of his job, with 10% disapproving and 33% unsure.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who is up for re-election in November, had a majority of voters age 50-plus disapproving of how she has handled her job.  Fifty-three percent expressed disapproval compared to 42% approval and 5% not sure.

President Donald Trump, who is also up for re-election, also had a 53% majority disapproving of his handling of the job. Trump had 45% approval and 3% not sure.

Other elected officials’ job approval included:

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds:  56% approve, 38% disapprove, 6% not sure
  • U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley: 54% approve, 41% disapprove, 5% not sure
  • Your representative to the Iowa House of Representatives:  47% approve, 19% disapprove, 34% not sure
  • Your representative to the Iowa Senate: 47% approve, 22% disapprove, 30% not sure.

The poll of 804 Iowa registered voters age 50-plus, conducted July 6-8 by Selzer & Co., has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.