We are seeing it every day, the Left is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to politicize every single policy put forth by Pres. Trump and Gov. Reynolds. They’re even going so far as to use this crisis as an excuse to push their destructive agenda – including how Americans vote.
Already states like Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, and Wyoming have canceled their in-person primaries, switching to only vote-by-mail elections. Worse yet, New York completely canceled their primary entirely. Of course, we must protect the health and safety of Iowans, but we must not cede this issue to the left, and the only people making these seismic decisions need to be the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Reynolds.
Recently, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced his office would be mailing every registered voter an absentee ballot request form. Of course, it’s important to maintain social distancing as the Governor has said, and voting by mail is a way to mitigate the spread among those at a higher risk of contracting the virus. These are very uncertain times, but it’s still vitally important to vote — whether that’s filling out an absentee ballot or voting on Election Day.
There are two significant and destructive moves that Pate made – extension of the voting period and the spending of taxpayer dollars.
The first election year with a slightly shorter window for voting was 2018 (29 days versus 40 days). This election cycle was a mid-year record turnout, so there is no apparent reason for the need for an extension – more days does not equal more participation. No matter, Pate used his nonexistent powers to go back to the longer window. No reasoning, no authority.
Secondly, with his move, Pate mailed absentee ballot requests to hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t even eligible to vote in the primary unless they change their voter registrations. Most recent counts show 703,931 voters are registered as no party. What an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars.
Extending the duration of an election and spending that amount of tax dollars must only be approved by the legislature. They are the arbiters of this issue, not Secretary Pate.
As it should be with any change in public policy, in 2017 it was the legislature and governor who passed Iowa’s Voter ID law, after listening to the will of voters. While Secretary Pate’s decision to mail every voter a primary ballot might have been well-intentioned, it doesn’t mean the process was right. A state official in this role does not have the statutory authority to single-handedly make these changes. And if we start down this path with a Republican elected official, we can absolutely expect it to happen with a Democratic one.
As things hopefully go back to normal this fall, there’s no doubt both parties will have robust absentee ballot programs. But we also need to have a safe system in place to allow people to show up to vote at the polls. Switching to total absentee ballot voting is unrealistic, and it’s only being pushed for political leverage, not in the best interest of Iowans, or upholding the integrity of our voting system. Iowans demand integrity in the way we vote – 69 percent of Iowans support some type of voter ID requirement – and rightfully so.
One thing is clear: it must be the legislature and the governor deciding this issue when session reconvenes. No one else.