Legislation that has been fast-tracked by Republican lawmakers that would drastically change Iowa election laws is a solution in search of a problem.
Iowa’s elections system isn’t broken. Not even close.
More than 1.7 million Iowans voted in the 2020 election — an impressive 76% of eligible voters in the state and the highest total in state history. During an election in which a veteran Republican secretary of state was at the helm in Iowa, the record turnout brought victories for GOP candidates in several high-profile races.
To suggest now that there was fraud in the system calls into question the work of Secretary Paul Pate and casts doubt on the outcome of the election.
It also goes against the facts.
There should be no doubt. There was no fraud. Pate was diligent in maintaining the integrity of the process in Iowa.
Now, after decades of well-executed elections, it makes no sense to put in place arbitrary restrictions that would make it more difficult for Iowans to vote.
Among the changes the bill that now awaits the signature of Gov. Kim Reynolds would bring about are:
- Shortening the early voting period to 20 days from the current 29. That change comes three years after Republicans reduced the period from 40 days.
- Mailed ballots would have to be received by county election officials by the time polls close on Election Day, rather than counting votes as long as they were postmarked by Election Day and arrived by noon on the Monday following the election. A U.S. Postal Service postmark would no longer be valid verification as to when a ballot was mailed.
- Polls would close one hour earlier.
- Elections officials only could send out absentee ballots if specifically requested by a voter.
- Inactive voters would be more quickly removed from the rolls.
- Voters would have to petition in order for satellite voting sites to be established.
Iowa has never been a state with widespread concern about voter irregularities. As stewards of the first-in-the-nation caucus, Iowans take their voting responsibility seriously and turn out.
During 2020, a year with a catastrophic pandemic, Iowans were able to carry out their civic duty thanks to early and absentee voting. More than 1 million votes were cast in that manner. Changes in the law pushed by Republican legislators would make the process far more difficult.
And given that there was no evidence of fraud in the last election, the arguments of Republican lawmakers fall flat and this bill only can be viewed as a voter suppression measure.
The right to vote should not rest on someone’s ability to navigate further impediments to the process. Auditors across the state — Republicans and Democrats — are united in their opposition to the Republican-backed legislation. They know that throwing up obstacles will destabilize, not strengthen, the integrity of elections.
Iowans must make their voices heard and let lawmakers know Iowa’s fair and unbiased elections process should be maintained, not diminished by partisan legislation.