Democrats rallied on the steps of the statehouse today to criticize a Republican-crafted bill that would impose new restrictions on absentee voting and would force Iowa voters to show an I-D every time they vote. Democrats also oppose the bill’s call for closing the polls an hour earlier. Senator Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says Republicans are upset because Democrats effectively used absentee ballots to help reelect Governor Vilsack and Senator Harkin. He says the sooner they pass the bill, the better, so the governor can veto it. The bill has several other provisions which pull Iowa in line with new federal election law, changes the state must make to qualify the state for 30-million dollars in federal money to purchase new voting machines and train poll workers. Representative Pam Jochum, a democrat from Dubuque, says the whole thing is ironic as we have young men and women in the country fighting to free the Iraqi people and to instill some democratic principles, while we on the homefront are making it harder to cast a vote.Jochum says the bill would also remove democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver as the state’s Commissioner of Elections and turn the responsibilities over to the non-partisan Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. She says there’s been no proof that Culver has done anything wrong.The bill has already passed the House and will be debated in the Senate soon.
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