Arguments got underway this morning in a lawsuit filed by five Polk County republicans seeking to stop election officials from counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Republicans are suing because democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver has directed county auditors to count the so-called provisional ballots. Culver’s decision came after a legal opinion issued by the democrat state Attorney General. Assistant Attorney General Gordon Allen asked the judge to throw out the lawsuit insisting nothing illegal has happened. Allen argues that there’s no question under the “Help America Vote Act” if compliance is achieved, that a provisional ballot should be given and should be taken. He says they’re actually arguing whether state law is preempted by the national law and the vote should be counted. Allen says if the republicans believe the ballots should not be counted, they can challenge the ballots next week after they’re cast. But he says his office will fight any challenge to make sure those ballots are counted.He says “We’re here to defend franchising voters, we want more people to vote, that’s the whole idea of democracy.”But the attorney for the republicans, Richard Sapp, argued that the court should not have to wait until after the election to intervene. Sapp says if the court does not act, the Secretary of State will conduct next Tuesday’s election directly contrary to state law. He says it’s a voter rights act case where there is a clear statatory violation of established Iowa election laws. He says it will not only harm the people who brought the case, but it will also harm a large number of the state’s voters. Sapp says Culver overstepped his authority. He says Culver, based on nothing more than his personal views and an informal advice letter from the Attorney General, decided that Iowa is not going to follow Iowa election law. He says if they claim that action is not illegal, then he says he doesn’t know that there is any illegal action that can be stopped by the court before it is carried out and does irreperable harm. Sapp says if the court does not act, the voters will believe they’re legall casting their ballots in the wrong precinct only to have them challenged. Judge Arthur Gamble is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss the case this afternoon.
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