ATLANTIC –Friday is the last day to get an absentee ballot by mail for the June 2 primary election, according to Cass County Deputy Auditor Sheri Karns.

Request forms need to be received by 5 p.m. that day, Karns said, need to be returned with a postmark of June 1 to be counted for the primary election. Karns said absentee ballots are not open and counted until 9 p.m. on election night.

Karns said state officials sent out 8,922 requests forms for registered voters in the county, and 1,790 forms have been returned.

She said people are encouraged to vote by absentee to protect themselves as well as poll workers, who are more likely to be at high risk for the coronavirus.

She also said people who need to register to vote also need to come to the auditor’s office to do so by Friday by 5 p.m., and if people would just like to come in and vote prior to the election, they can do so until 5 p.m. on June 1.

Secretary Paul Pate said almost 400,000 Iowans have asked for absentee ballots.

“People have listened and they heard. They got the message: let’s vote safe, let’s vote from home right now,” says Pate, the state’s commissioner of elections told Radio Iowa.

Pate said Iowa National Guard soldiers distributed personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to county auditors to be used by poll workers at the polling sites on June 2.

“We want Iowans to be able to vote,” Pate told Radio Iowa. “We want them to be able to vote safely and we want our poll workers to be safe.”

Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald also told Radio Iowa that during the outbreak, people are more likely to vote by mail.

“We are in the pandemic,” Fitzgerald says. “You have people now that are voting safely, making sure they don’t spread the virus.”

Pate also encouraged residents to do the vote by mail option to protect themselves as well as poll workers, and said he thinks the primary is something that is on people’s minds since the coronavirus outbreak has changed their schedules.

“I think the pandemic has put a much stronger emphasis on voting,” Pate told Radio Iowa. “People are at home. They’re paying attention to what the government’s doing.”