The Republican-led Iowa legislature passed a second round of election law changes this week, including limits on who can take someone else’s absentee ballot to the county auditor’s office.
Senator Roby Smith, a Republican from Davenport, said there are all sorts of security provisions once an absentee ballot reaches a county auditor’s office, but without these changes, anyone can “walk up and grab” someone’s absentee ballot and claim they’ll deliver it.
“It was treated like a Kleenex. There’s no security when someone can knock on your door (and say): ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll return your ballot,'” Smith said during debate late Wednesday evening. “You don’t know who it is. They can open it up. They can change the vote. They can throw it away. They could shred it.”
Family members may deliver a relative’s absentee ballot and any registered Iowa voter can help two blind or disabled voters deliver their absentee ballot to the county auditor’s office. Political parties, unions and campaigns cannot have paid representatives or volunteers collect absentee ballots. The person delivering the absentee ballot must fill out a form verifying their identity and present that form along with the absentee ballot to the county auditor.
All the Democrats present Wednesday opposed the bill.
“One more nail in democracy’s coffin,” Jochum said. “You’ve been working overtime, pal…to make sure you are creating an obstacle course for Iowa’s voters.”
Senator James Carlin, a Republican from Sioux City, said the federal election law congress has proposed is “designed to facilitate fraud” and Iowa needs strong state rules.
“I like knowing that the people who are voting are who they say they are,” Carlin said, “and my trust issue, whatever it is, has really been triggered since Election Day.”
Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, said Republicans are using former President Trump’s claims of a rigged election as their guide for this year’s election-related bills.
“What you’re doing is all based on a premise of a lie,” Bisignano said. “It’s a big lie.”
The election bill Republicans approved on the 2021 legislative session’s final day covers a wide range of issues. It stipulates 17-year-olds who’ve registered to vote because they’ll be 18 by Election Day are not to be removed when voters are cut from registration lists if they haven’t cast a ballot in the last General Election. That problem cropped up as a result of the election law passed earlier in the legislative session.