Iowa’s commissioner of elections and the lawyer who judges whether Iowa campaigns are following the rules both say they like the idea of declaring Election Day a holiday. Charlie Smithson is executive director and legal counsel for the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. “It’s an idea to explore as we try to get more voter turn-out,” Smithson says. “I’m someone who is a little bit concerned about all of the absentee and advance voting that we do. I think there’s some room there for some manipulations. I would just assume see it easier for persons to vote on Election Day itself.” Iowa allows voters to cast their vote by mail with an absentee ballot. You can also go into your county auditor’s office and vote, or go to one of dozens of satellite voting stations set up in public places like libraries in the weeks leading up to the election to let Iowans vote early. Smithson says in addition to all the campaign trickery that can happen with absentee ballots, there’s also the issue of having someone cast their votes weeks before an election. He says if something comes out about a candidate in the last few days of a campaign, people who’re already cast their ballots can’t undo their votes. Secretary of State Chet Culver, the state’s commissioner of elections, says he’s for anything that might boost voter turn-out, but it will probably require an act of Congress to declare Election Day a national holiday. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has introduced legislation that would do that, but the bill has passed neither the U.S. Senate nor the House. “You never know,” Culver says. “Maybe that’s something we could get done in this country before the next presidential election in 2008.” But Culver is a huge advocate of early voting, and he would not curb that in favor of shifting only to Election Day voting on a national holiday.
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