The next election always feels so imminent. The moment one is over, we begin focusing our full attention on the next. This period after a heated and seemingly never-ending election cycle allows all of us a time for reflection. We must understand what worked, what did not, and what we can improve on – especially when it comes to our state’s election laws.
I believe, just as many Iowans do, that we must strengthen our election systems. It’s the job of state legislatures to listen to their constituents and propose legislation to fix the issues they’ve identified and ensure that voters feel confident in their election systems. I applaud the Iowa Legislature for their work in pushing for improvements to Iowa’s already strong system – just like we did in 2017 when we passed Voter ID laws. These laws that we passed, and Iowans supported, set a standard for other states across the country whose constituents no longer believe their elections are safe and secure.
Improving our election system isn’t done in a single year. It’s a process that takes time as shortfalls are identified and solutions are created. It would be completely naive of us to believe our elections system is perfect – that is why I fully support legislators in their effort to update our laws. In 2020, we saw rogue county auditors ignoring laws created by lawmakers. These auditors sent out pre-filled absentee ballot request forms, which opened Iowans up to identity theft, put election security at risk, and created an unequal set of voting requirements from county to county. Detrimental actions like this need consequences – not just a day in court.
Now Iowa Democrats are trying to label this needed reform as “voter suppression” which is the typical fear-mongering messaging they are known for. In the 2020 election, 76 percent of Iowa voters cast their ballot which broke voter turnout records. These records broke all while the Des Moines Register Editorial Board claimed GOP lawmakers didn’t want Iowans to vote. The faux fear-mongering is endless, tiresome and Iowans deserve better.
Tightening election rules to ensure safe, secure, and fair elections is the job of state legislators – it’s what Iowans elected them to do. Our system is strong right now, but we can always make it stronger. We’ve seen the world change a lot over the past year and our elections system should change with it.
Linda Upmeyer is State Co Chair of the Republican Party of Iowa and the former Speaker Of the Iowa House of Representatives.