Senator Joni Ernst.

Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have joined their fellow Republicans to block debate of a bill that would require automatic voter registration nationwide and at least 15 days of early voting in each election.

Democrats have argued their bill is a necessary response to election law changes being made in GOP-led state legislatures in Iowa and other states. Ernst, a former county auditor who oversaw Montgomery County elections, calls the bill a “DC power grab.”

“I trust the county auditors in Iowa at the local level — Democrats, Republicans and the occasional independent — much more than I trust a bunch of DC politicians and bureaucrats who want to run our local elections,” Ernst said.

Senator Grassley.

Grassley said he voted against debating the plan because it would “strip states of key election management decisions.”  The 100-member Senate is evenly divided and all 50 Republicans in the Senate voted against allowing debate. Sixty votes are needed before a bill can be debated.

During a news conference organized by the Republican National Committee, Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaumann said the bill shows Democrats “are desperate” about the 2022 election.

“Bottom line is this: this federalizes elections even though the vast majority of Americans and Iowans do not want it,” Kaufmann said. “…This is undoing many things that states have done to make voting more secure.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn tweeted that the bill would “protect the sacred right to vote” everywhere and “don’t be fooled by the GOP spin.” Wilburn said the election bill Governor Reynolds signed this year rigs Iowa’s voting system in Republicans’ favor.