Secretary of State Paul Pate says he’s ready to work with legislators to ensure state law clearly requires Iowans who sign nominating papers for candidates include the date they signed the petition.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled last week errors in the dates next to three signatures on U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer’s nominating petitions were not grounds to disqualify Finkenauer from the June Primary ballot.
“I did have a different opinion on it. I felt that 200 candidates plus got it right and were able to get the dates and the signatures done correctly,” Pate said this morning, “…but I do respect the fact that the Supreme Court took a different interpretation and my homework now is to work with the legislature so that we spell it out so that it’s much clearer in the future.”
In its ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court said just last year the legislature passed a law outlining the specific reasons for rejecting signatures on nominating petitions, but that law did not address missing or incorrect dates on the signature line. Pate does not expect the state legislature to pass a bill on the subject before it adjourns this year, but he says it’ll be a priority in 2023. Pate said that way the law is clear when 2024 candidates begin collecting signatures on nominating petitions.
“Consistency is the first thing. If we’re going to put the date on the petitions, then it should be required,” Pate said. “I think there’s a good case to be made that the dates are important when you’re trying to interpret when they were signed, to verify if those people were actually legitimate voters at the time or eligible (voters), so I think there’s a reason for that.”
Pate made his comments during taping of “Iowa Press” which airs tonight on Iowa PBS.