Iowa House approves controversial bill to limit early voting

The bill that would change election laws in Iowa will now head to Governor Kim Reynolds' desk - where she will decide whether to sign it into law.
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 8:59 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) -The Iowa House passed a controversial bill that would limit early voting and impose other restrictions on Wednesday night.

In a strict party-line vote, the bill passed with a 57-37 vote, with six not voting.

If signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds, Senate File 413 would cut Iowa’s early voting period from 29 days to 20 days.

The bill also requires most mail-in ballots to be received by county election officials by the time polls close on Election Day, instead of allowing votes to be counted as long as they were postmarked by Election Day and arrived by noon on the Monday following the election.

The bill also prohibits the use of a U.S. Postal Service postmark as a way to verify when a ballot was mailed.

Polling times also would be reduced by an hour, closing at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

And the bill would also prohibit county auditors from mailing absentee ballot request forms to eligible Iowa voters-something that was widespread during the pandemic-unless a voter requests a form.

Reacting to the bill’s passage, House Speaker Pat Grassley released a statement saying “Iowans deserve an election that they can trust. One that makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat. That is exactly what they’ll get with this legislation. Despite the hysteria coming from the Left, Iowa will continue to see successful elections with high voter turnout and results they can trust. With this bill, Iowa’s election system will continue to set an example for the rest of the country.

In a tweet, Iowa House Democrats said “Instead of working together to help Iowans recover from the pandemic, today @IAHouseGOP passed a new voter suppression bill. Even after the safe and secure election in November 2020, they want to make it more difficult for Iowans to vote.”

Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to the bill’s passage: “Iowa elections do not have an integrity problem. Bobby Kaufmann has an integrity problem. Every member of the legislature who voted for this despicable voter suppression bill has an integrity problem. Every eligible Iowan must be able to cast their ballot for our democracy to function properly. And we will encourage Iowans to speak out in every manner possible and as often as possible to remind Representative Kaufmann and Iowa Republicans that their allegiance should be to their constituents and our democracy.

The bill now goes to Governor Reynolds, but it is not clear if she will sign it.

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