Legislators have voted to close the polls on election day an hour earlier, at eight instead of nine p.m. Republicans like Representative Libby Jacobs of West Des Moines says County Auditors — who run the polls — want the polls to close an hour earlier. On primary and General Election days in Iowa, the polls are open from seven A.M. to nine p.m. and Jacobs says that’s one of the longest election days in the country. Most other states close their polls at eight, and Jacobs says the media reports the results of other states while Iowa’s polls are still open. Jacobs says absentee balloting and early voting at satellite stations are growing in popularity, making longer hours on Election Day less of a necessity. She says the long hours are also a hardship for poll workers, most of whom are elderly. But democrats like Representative Mark Smith of Marshalltown says it’s the wrong move as it’ll make it more difficult for working Iowans with families to get to the polls. Smith says it’s far more important to give people time to vote than to let poll workers leave an hour earlier or make results available to the media more quickly. Representative Todd Taylor, a democrat from Cedar Rapids, says democrat Governor Tom Vilsack will likely veto the bill. Taylor says it may boil down to a partisan battle, with democrats charging that cutting off voting earlier limits access to the polls. Representative Jeffrey Elgin, a republican from Cedar Rapids, says the County Auditors who run elections want the polls to close at eight. Elgin says the polls close at eight o’clock for all other elections and the auditors want to close the polls for the General Election at eight o’clock, too. Elgin says lawmakers have done a number of things to make it easier to vote, such as early voting at satellite precinct stations, and he doesn’t see cutting Election Day voting off an hour early as a “hardship on anybody.” The polls for primaries, school board contests and all other elections close at eight o’clock in Iowa. It’s just for the General Election that the polls stay open ’til nine. Senate republicans approved the time change Tuesday; the republicans in the House approved it yesterday.
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