Iowa Democratic Party’s Early Vote Express stops in Coralville

The Iowa Democratic Party’s “Early Vote Express” stopped in Coralville Wednesday, 300 feet from the early voting at the public library. Iowa Democratic Party leaders encouraged early voting and advocated for their candidate, Joe Biden.


Raquele Decker

The Iowa Democratic Party bus is seen in Coralville on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

Clinton Garlock, News Reporter

A red, white, and blue bus emblazoned with the words “I voted early!” sat humming in Coralville’s Morrison Park parking lot while Democratic party leaders, including Iowa Sen. Zach Wahls D-Coralville and Iowa Representatives Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty, and Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, chatted with passersby and handed out merch to get out the vote for presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

The bus was parked 300 feet away from the early voting station set up in the Coralville Public Library, which according to Johnson County Democratic Party Chair Ed Cranston is the legally required distance from which political events can be held. About a dozen people aside from volunteers stopped by the bus. 

“We brought them here today because Coralville is having their satellite voting over at the library, so we wanted to focus on getting out the vote,” Cranston said. 

Voters in Coralville can vote early at the public library Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wahls said this election could be the most important election in a voter’s lifetime. 

“What happens on Nov. 3 of this year is going to have an impact that is not just for the next four years, but for the next 40 years. The stakes have never been higher,” Wahls said. 

The representatives said that while they had participated in similar events before, the COVID-19 pandemic created unique challenges for getting the vote out. 

“It’s so different. For one thing we would all be seeing each other’s smiling faces here at the park this morning. I [normally] would probably be doing a lot of door knocking because that’s the thing that gets people aware and motivated, and building all kinds of different rally events like this,” Nielsen said. 

She said that  the Early Vote Express was the only event planned for October whereas they normally would be doing at least five or six.

Cranston said that because of the pandemic the party hadn’t set up an office in Iowa City and that most of it has been done remotely through calling, texting and coordinating with local grassroots organizations. However, he said he didn’t feel that remote work is as effective at engaging with voters.

“Talking to people face-to-face is always best,” Cranston said. 

All participants were required to wear protective face masks during the event, which Jacoby said created a new dynamic when connecting with community members. 

“While people are wearing masks, you have to look eye-to-eye. And I think people get to look in people’s eyes a little bit more and really listen to what they’re saying,” Jacoby said. 

Nielsen encouraged undecided voters to vote for the Biden, and not the one that she said “believes in whatever he wants to make up.”

“I would like a president that took a deadly pandemic seriously, and didn’t hide information from me and didn’t mislead me, and millions of other people, some of them to their deaths,” Nielsen said, referencing President Donald Trump’s admission that he downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to avoid a panic. Trump held a packed campaign rally in Des Moines on Wednesday. 

The Republican Party of Johnson County did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wahls said Nov. 3 is actually the last day a person can vote, and recommended the website for people who are not sure what they need to do to make their voice heard.

“The sooner you vote, the sooner we stop bothering you and texting you and emailing you and calling you trying to get you to vote,” Wahls said.

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