Motor voters add 4.4 percent to pool

POLK COUNTY — Ballots will be mailed on Friday. For 519 people in Polk County, it will be their first election as registered voters — and all they had to do was have a current driver’s license.

The Motor Voter bill took effect on Jan. 1 and has increased the number of registered voters statewide by 34,410 in nearly four months.

In Polk, it’s a 4.4 percent increase in registered voters, said County Clerk Val Unger.

“During an average week, outside of an election cycle, we typically receive 50 to 70 registrations, which may be new registrations to our county or address updates,” Unger said. “In the past three days, I have processed over 600 online registrations.”

In addition to the motor voters, more information about the primary election has been distributed, prompting political party changes.

In Polk County, numbers have gone up for both Democrats (1,385) and Republicans (747).

Motor voters must return a card to be affiliated with a party, or they are registered as a non-affiliated voter and would not be eligible to vote in the presidential primary.

Unger said another factor in the changes in parties could be because the Independent party opened the primary to non-affiliated voters.

“As was done in the past, when a major party opens up the primary, the secretary of state mails a notice to each non-affiliated voter informing them of their right to request an Independent ballot if they choose,” Unger said. “This time, the state also included additional information about the closed primary system, informing each voter of their options for this election, including updating to a major party.”

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