Laura Belin

Exclusive: New Iowa absentee rules disenfranchised hundreds in 2022 primary

New restrictions on absentee voting prevented hundreds of Iowans from having their ballots counted in the June 7 primary election, Bleeding Heartland’s review of data from county auditors shows.

About 150 ballots that would have been valid under previous Iowa law were not counted due to a bill Republican legislators and Governor Kim Reynolds enacted in 2021, which required all absentee ballots to arrive at county auditors’ offices by 8:00 pm on election day. The majority of Iowans whose ballots arrived too late (despite being mailed before the election) were trying to vote in the Republican primary.

Hundreds more Iowans would have been able to vote by mail prior to the 2021 changes, but missed the new deadline for submitting an absentee ballot request form. More than half of them did not manage to cast a ballot another way in the June 7 election.

The new deadlines will trip up many more Iowans for the November election, when turnout will likely be about three times the level seen in this year’s primary, and more “snowbirds” attempt to vote by mail in Iowa from other states.

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Kim Reynolds doesn't want to know about Donald Trump's crimes

In the immediate aftermath of the January 6, 2021 coup attempt, Governor Kim Reynolds condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol and called for prosecuting those who incited violence “to the full extent.”

But as a U.S. House Select Committee uncovers more evidence of former President Donald Trump’s apparent criminal conspiracy to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, Reynolds is “not paying any attention” to the investigation, she told reporters this week.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Striped white violet

After severely fracturing my ankle in January, I don’t walk easily on uneven ground, so didn’t get out to photograph wildflowers as often as usual this spring. Fortunately, I was able to find plenty of this week’s featured plants in my own back yard.

Striped white violets (Viola striata) are not nearly as prevalent as common blue violets (Viola sororia), but they are found throughout Iowa and in about 20 states in the eastern part of the U.S. They are sometimes known as striped cream violet or pale violet. According to the Illinois Wildflowers website, “This species doesn’t invade lawns because its stems are too long. It is relatively easy to cultivate in gardens.”

I usually start seeing striped white violets in April, but this year’s cold spring delayed the blooming period by several weeks. I took all of the photographs enclosed below (except one) between mid-May and early June in Windsor Heights.

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Reynolds seeks legal do-over to reinstate 2018 abortion ban

Governor Kim Reynolds announced on June 28 that she will seek to lift an injunction on a 2018 law that would have banned almost all abortions in Iowa. After that law was struck down in early 2019, Reynolds opted not to appeal the decision, due to an Iowa Supreme Court precedent that is no longer operative.

The governor will also ask the Iowa Supreme Court to rehear a recently-decided abortion case, taking into account the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that overturned the Roe v Wade and Casey precedents.

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How far can Iowa Republicans go to ban abortion? (updated)

The worst-case scenario for bodily autonomy in Iowa played out over the past ten days. First, the Iowa Supreme Court on June 17 overturned its own 2018 precedent that established a fundamental right to abortion, protected by the state constitution. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that established a federal constitutional right to an abortion, and the related Casey decision of 1992.

Top Iowa Republicans immediately promised further action to restrict abortion, which is now legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s not yet clear when they will try to pass a new law, which exceptions (if any) may be on the table, or whether a ban modeled on other state laws could survive an Iowa court challenge.

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Hearing obliterates Grassley's excuses for Trump on pressuring DOJ

Senator Chuck Grassley has not been following the work of the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021, he told Dr. Bob Leonard of KNIA-KRLS Radio this week.

He should have watched the televised hearings on June 23. The focus was how President Donald Trump tried to use the U.S. Department of Justice to help him subvert the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election. The key elements of that conspiracy have been known since the Senate Judiciary Committee investigated that angle last year. But witnesses and exhibits provided many new details.

The testimony from former administration officials and Trump attorneys obliterated the alternate reality Grassley promoted last year, in which the president “did not exert improper influence on the Justice Department.”

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