Iowa Republicans have introduced a comprehensive set of bills in the Legislature to strengthen and improve Iowa’s election and voting process. The proposals were introduced in both the House and the Senate under HSB 213 and SSB 1199.
Key provisions include:
- Adding and strengthening Election Misconduct penalties, such as penalties for election officials who fail to follow or implement Secretary of State guidance or disregard the law.
- Mandates voter registration maintenance and creates a penalty for election officials who fail to perform voter maintenance.
- Reforms the absentee ballot process:
- Adjusts the absentee ballot request window to begin at 70 days before an election rather than 120
- Prohibits pre-filled absentee ballot request forms with exceptions for the type and date of election
- Establishes that Absentee Ballots shall be mailed no more than 18 days before the election.
- Absentee voting in person and satellite voting can not start until 18 days before the election.
- Adds new Restrictions on ballot harvesting by stipulating that only the voter or individual who lives in the same house as the voter, an immediate family member, or a qualified caretaker may return a completed Abesneet ballot
Several of these provisions are in direct response to County Auditors’ actions that resulted in court cases.
Thanks to the legislature’s proactive measures in years past, Iowans enjoyed record turnout in 2020 and an election system that proved to be safe and secure. Proponents say that doesn’t mean the legislature shouldn’t take action to improve it.
Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who is sponsoring the House version, hopes Democrats come to the table with sincere suggestions and feedback to produce a bipartisan bill that Iowans can be proud of.
“It’s imperative that we maintain the integrity of our elections. We have a strong election system here in Iowa, but the 2020 election showed us many ways it can be improved,” said Kaufmann.
“This bill aims to ensure there is uniformity of election procedures throughout the state, make sure our county auditors are following the law, and shorten the election cycle. I will continue to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to strengthen our election system so Iowa can continue to set an example for the rest of the country,” He concluded.
Opponents of the bills have taken issue with the Republican-led effort. Just like in years past, any time Iowa Republicans work to strengthen or improve election integrity or the voter registration process, Democrats scream voter suppression.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate was supportive of the legislature’s role in strengthening and improving the process. He provided the following quote to Iowa Field Report.
“My goal has always been to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. We also must play by the rules. I respect the fact that the Iowa Legislature sets the rules through laws for how elections are conducted,” he annouced.
“My job is to administer elections in compliance with those laws. I encourage all county auditors, election officials, and candidates for office to play by the rules. As always, my office will be available to provide input and suggestions to legislators on proposed bills if asked,” stated Secretay Pate.
The house and the Senate versions are still in committee however sources have informed Iowa Field Report that a final bill will come together soon for a floor vote.