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While voters go to the polls, county auditors scared of fines are still waiting on guidance on new election laws

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Linn County held its first election since statehouse Republicans passed a new election law. But, some county auditors are still waiting for some additional guidance on the new law, which could result in $10,000 fines.

The law, which was signed back in March, makes multiple changes to the absentee ballot process and gives people less time to vote. It also made changes to voter list maintenance activities, among other changes. In July, KCRG-TV9 reported that county auditors planned to push for higher salaries in response to fines in the law.

The new election law bans entities from sending ballot request forms to voters. But, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will still get those forms out to people by printing them in the Penny Saver.

Joel Miller, a Democrat, who is the Linn County Auditor, said his office has received some guidance from the Secretary of State’s Office. But, he said he’s still waiting on guidance on other specific issues. Miller said he’s trying to follow the state’s new election law, which allows a family member to drop off an absentee ballot for someone with a disability. But, the law doesn’t specify who meets the definition of a family member.

“We don’t have any administrative rules on what that is,” Miller said. “We think we know what that is, but in order for it to be truly effective and universal the Secretary of State’s Office has to define what that means.”

County auditors in Dubuque, Johnson, Black Hawk, and Buchanan County also said they were waiting for additional guidance from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Kevin Hall, who is the communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office, originally pushed back on not giving auditors enough information to comply with the new law in an emailed statement. He would later send a statement explaining the Secretary of State’s Office told us it couldn’t provide a specific definition when it came to family members other than degrees of consanguinity.

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