Democrats are attacking an election reform bill that’ll come up for debate this week in the Legislature. Iowa must clarify many election laws in order to qualify for millions of dollars worth of federal grants to buy new voting machines. But democrats complain the bill moving through the legislature would make it harder to vote by, for instance, closing the polls an hour earlier. Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says it’s about hindering Iowans from voting.Democrats don’t like another of the bill’s requirements that absentee ballots must be returned by mail, as their party had an edge in the 2002 elections because party operatives picked up absentee ballots and delivered them to county courthouses. Gronstal says the Republican-led Legislature can approve these changes, but he says Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack will reject them. He says the bill is destined to be vetoed in its current form.The bill would require voters to show a photo I.D. in order to obtain a ballot, which goes farther than the new federal requirement that one must show a photo I.D. to register to vote. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says the bill aims to keep Iowa’s elections free of fraud. He says you can’t cash a check without a photo i-d, or get on an airplane, so its not a big deal.Iverson, though, says Republicans intend to keep talking with Governor Vilsack to try to find an acceptable compromise.
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