The Iowa Legislative Council has agreed to let Iowa soldiers who are deployed overseas vote electronically in seven special elections scheduled next Tuesday — a step required by a new law forcing the secretary of state to get the legislative branch’s permission for some election-related decisions.
The panel of two dozen state senators and representatives also rehashed the debate over the law Republican lawmakers passed.
“We may turn the Legislative Council into a babysitting club of the secretary of state at the rate we’re going,” Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen said, “…If this group has to meet every single time there’s an election to determine the powers of his office, it’s simply ridiculous.”
Secretary of State Paul Pate sent absentee ballot request forms to every Iowan for the June 2nd Primary and there was record turn-out. Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny said the new law is a rational way to ensure Secretary of State Pate doesn’t duplicate other efforts to send send absentee ballot request forms to Iowans for the November election.
“I think there’s a lot of scare tactics going on, like the legislature is preventing people from voting absentee and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Whitver said. “The question is who’s in charge of voter turn-out. Is that the secretary of state’s job or is that the campaigns of President Trump and former Vice President Biden and all of us?”
Secretary of State Pate, a Republican, has not commented publicly on the new limits on his authority. He’s been tweeting this week about the record participation in the June Primary and today’s updated voter registration data. Pate has been the state’s top election official for 9.5 years and is currently the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.