A House committee has approved legislation to require Iowans casting an early vote to put their voter ID number or driver’s license number on the outside of the absentee ballot envelope. It would prohibit Iowa’s secretary of state and county auditors from accepting private donations to help run elections.
“The point of this bill is the banning of outside money for influencing public elections, ensuring that the voter ID loop is closed and we’ve checked off all of those boxes,” said Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton who is chairman of the House State Government Committee.
The bill also updates the rules for election recounts — like the one in the second congressional district that saw some counties run the ballots through counting machines and others do a recount by hand.
“Bipartisan recount reform, so there’s uniformity across the system for all 99 counties,” Kaufmann said.
Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, said making recount procedures the same across all counties makes sense. She’s concerned about the change to require voters to write their driver’s license number or voter ID number on what’s called the affidavit envelope for their absentee ballot. Wolfe said that needs to be prominently noted and clearly explained.
“In order to avoid people completely, inadvertently not seeing that,” Wolfe said, “not realizing what it is, sending their absentee ballot back in and having their ballot not count.”
The bill also would let Iowa political parties post the date, time and location of precinct caucuses on the party’s public website. Under current law, parties have to publish that information in local newspapers.
(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio/Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson also contributed to this story.)