A top republican in the legislature is objecting to a newsletter Iowa’s democrat Secretary of State plans to send to every household in the state. The newsletter offers information about the fall election, including directions on how to get an absentee ballot. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says there’s a better way to spend half a million dollars. Rants says both political parties are spending millions of dollars to try to get everyone in the state an absentee ballot request form and encouraging them to vote absentee. “To me, it just seems a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money to be sending out more absentee ballot request forms at the taxpayers’ expense,” Rants says. He says the money would be better used to buy new voting machines. Rants says there’s a “pressing need” to update voting machines to ensure ballots are being tabulated correctly. Secretary of State Chet Culver, a democrat, defends the mailing, saying it will help increase the number of Iowans who vote.Culver says it’s his job — as commission of elections — to encourage Iowans to vote, and he says the voter guide will be a model for the whole nation. He says a bipartisan group of advisors recommended the newsletter as a voter education tool. Rants charges the newsletter is “advertising” for Culver’s political career, but Culver says the voter guide idea isn’t his alone. Culver says a bipartisan group of advisors, including a few legislators, embrace the idea of sending out a voter guide. “Partisan politics should have nothing to do with informing and educating Iowa voters…as we get ready for this very exciting election on November 2nd,” Culver says. But Culver’s Democratic Party issued a statement yesterday, condemning Rants and saying Rants doesn’t understand the new voter education requirements in the federal “Help America Vote Act” that came after the Florida election controversy of 2000. Rants says the taxpayers are smart enough to judge for themselves that this is a waste of money. Rants says Iowans have been going to the polls for 150 years and voting, without a “guide” from the Secretary of State’s office.
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