When I served as the Montgomery County Auditor, I was tasked with many different responsibilities. Preparing and certifying tax levies, maintaining financial records, serving as the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, keeping real estate transfer records—you name it. But one of my most important tasks was serving as the local commissioner of elections—overseeing the process and ensuring ballots were counted.
In Iowa, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents serve in this same role as local elections officials across our state. And thanks to these hardworking folks, our state has one of the best run election systems in the country.
Since our founding, the Constitution has directed the states to determine the “Times, Places, and Manner” of elections; because our state and local leaders know what works best for their communities. Sadly, this week Washington Democrats decided they knew better and attempted to fundamentally change our system. They tried to push through radical, partisan legislation to federalize and tip the scales of our elections systems to favor Washington politicians over the American people.
Instead of addressing the important issues that are on the minds of my fellow Iowans—like the rising cost of gasoline, bread, milk, and all sorts of household goods—the Democrats’ number one priority was their purely partisan bill that would force Iowa taxpayers to pay for politicians’ campaigns, eliminate popular voter ID requirements at the polls, and put Washington, D.C. bureaucrats in charge of America’s local and state-run elections systems.
Their bill would create a federal jobs program for political consultants and pollsters, literally forcing Iowa taxpayers to subsidize the ads, flyers, campaign parties, and rallies of the politicians they dislike the most. While the Democrats call the bill the “For the People Act,” a more apt title would be “Fund the Politicians Act.”
The bill not only subsidizes the campaigns of politicians, it also nationalizes elections. That means Washington would tell the rest of the country how to select their representatives. This legislation would create a federal work-around of state voter ID laws by effectively eliminating the enforcement of state ID requirements at the polls—ignoring the majority of Americans who support requiring an ID to vote and the state laws that we have on the books right here in Iowa.
But let’s not forget what this effort by the Democrats is all about. It’s all part of their larger scheme and total power grab to tilt our political system in their favor.
Iowans can see this for what it is: a transparent play for permanent political power. I was proud to stand up and reject it this week.
The American people need Congress to be working together to find bipartisan solutions on issues like the border crisis and inflation—not prioritizing Washington Democrats and bureaucrats over hardworking families in Iowa, and across the country.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.