The Iowa House has passed an election-reform bill that makes Iowa eligible for millions in federal funding. But while the bill includes reforms like replacing outdated voting equipment, it also includes provisions democrat lawmakers hate, like closing polls an hour earlier and clamping down on absentee ballots. Representative Mary Mascher, a democrat from Iowa City, says lawmakers have a responsibility to protect the right of Iowans to vote. Mascher says Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack will veto the bill. She says many working Iowans can’t get the polls earlier in the day and the state shouldn’t limit a voter’s right to get to the polls. The bill also shortens the window for requesting an absentee ballot, and requires that ballot to be mailed back instead of being picked up by volunteers. Mascher also objected because the bill transfers oversight of elections from democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. But Republican Representative Libby Jacobs of West Des Moines says other states have put elections in the hands of nonpartisan boards to avoid conflicts. Jacobs says Republicans just want to make sure the state continues to have clean elections. After the last couple elections, Jacobs says there have been concerns about voters’ ballots being counted. She says this bill combines election reform and the re-invention of government while complying with federal requirements for voting systems. Jacobs says requiring I-Ds at the polls and controlling how absentee ballots are filed will maintain the integrity of Iowa’s voting system. Jacobs says closing the polls at eight rather than nine o’clock at night isn’t that big a change, and she says most other states have those sort of voting hours anyway.
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