There’s a statewide primary battle to win the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. It pits podiatrist Chuck Allison against retired federal prosecutor Bob Dopf.
Dopf, who has prosecuted election fraud, says his primary goal if elected would be to cut down on the use of absentee ballots. He says convenience isn’t to be a reason, as state law restricts the instances in which absentee ballots are to be used. “They’re not going to be home on election day or they have particular difficulty in getting to the polls. Unfortunately, the current Secretary of State has moved to a policy of forget about the requirements, if you want to ask for an absentee ballot you can just ask for one,” Dopf says. “The problem with that is it does open the door to fraud.”
Dopf would also forbid campaigns from distributing absentee ballots, something that’s grown common in Iowa politics. Dopf says no one other than the postman, the voter and the county auditor’s office should be handling the ballots, since someone who requests a ballot can have it mailed to their home and then mail it back in the already-stamped envelope.
Allison would seek a new state law requiring a voter to show a photo I.D. when they cast a ballot. “We don’t verify that people are who they say they are,” Allison says. “We don’t require an I.D. card for people to show to prove who they are…when they come to vote.” He says that means he could go in armed with a name and address, and vote for another person in the morning, then go back in the afternoon to vote for himself.
Both Dopf and Allison oppose Governor Tom Vilsack’s decision last summer to allow felons to regain their voting rights once they’ve completed their parole and probation. Dopf calls Vilsack’s order “shameful.” Dopf says the old system worked by requiring individual felons to apply to get their voting rights back and show they’d turned their lives around.
Allison says Vilsack took the action for political reasons, and the old system worked well. “Prior to that (executive order) felons were getting their rights restored at a very high rate when they applied to the governor’s office,” Allison says. He maintains the new system which gives voting rights to any felon who completes their sentence violates the “due process” that’s necessary.