Revised GOP election bill would exclude thousands more Iowa voters

On a party-line vote of 30 to 18, the Iowa Senate on February 23 approved Senate File 413, a new version of a bill that would restrict every aspect of the early voting process. The following day, the Iowa House approved the bill on a party-line 57 to 37 vote. Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill; Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have each endorsed limits on early voting in recent days.

Although State Senator Roby Smith’s amendment addressed a few of the concerns raised by county auditors and advocates for vulnerable populations, the revised legislation would make it even harder for thousands of Iowans to have their absentee ballots counted. In a new twist, it shortens election-day voting hours as well.

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Why the rush to change Iowa's election law?

Janice Weiner is a community activist and city council member in Iowa City. The Iowa Senate approved an amended version of this bill, which cuts early voting in many ways, along party lines on February 23. A forthcoming Bleeding Heartland post will discuss those changes in detail. -promoted by Laura Belin

The draft bill aimed at fixing voting problems that don’t exist, which is moving through the Iowa legislature at breakneck speed, galvanized me to speak out. We had only two minutes each for public comment at the February 22 public hearing. This is the original slightly longer version of my remarks:

I come at this from many directions.

During my 26 years as a U.S. diplomat, I served places where people literally risked their lives to vote. When I spoke with them, I held up my home state as a shining example of making it easy to exercise the franchise.

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Voter suppression advocates know what they're doing

James Larew, an attorney in Iowa City, delivered part of these remarks at a February 22 Iowa House public hearing on a bill that would restrict early voting. -promoted by Laura Belin

We live in troubling times.

The good news is that a democracy, such as Iowa’s, is inherently self-correcting.

Here, the people are sovereign.

Inept politicians can be replaced.

Foolish policies can be changed.

Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

The greater the voter participation, the more likely, the more speedily, self-corrections will be made.

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Early voting cuts would disenfranchise Iowa domestic violence survivors

Laura Hessburg is the public policy director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. -promoted by Laura Belin

We believe the sweeping election bill rapidly advancing through the Iowa legislature (Senate File 413 or House File 590) is bad for everyone. Iowans with the most to lose are those who rely on early voting: working people, busy people, senior citizens, college students, and survivors of intimate partner violence.

Current Iowa law gives people multiple opportunities and choices to exercise this fundamental right before election day. That is exactly what victims of domestic violence need to vote safely. Iowans can vote early at satellite voting stations conveniently located near them, they can drop a ballot off at a drop box, ask a friend to drop off a ballot for them, or they can vote completely by mail.

By undermining every single one of these choices and limiting the time and opportunities for early voting, this bill makes it harder for Iowans to vote and will disenfranchise victims of domestic violence. That is not what democracy looks like.

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Texifying Iowa

Ira Lacher: Maybe Iowa has become a place to grow hatred, especially of government, because the state, as has its rural neighbors, lost much of its small-business economy, community institutions, and sense of self. -promoted by Laura Belin

The harrowing news coming out of Texas is a warning of what could happen in Iowa.

Fortunately, we believe our power installations could freeze, and our elected officials didn’t blame last summer’s derecho on the Green New Deal.

But make no mistake — we are heading in that direction by punching our ticket on the reactionary railroad, terminating at Denialville, where science, education, and common sense are mothballed on rusted tracks.

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Cutting unemployment during pandemic is immoral, wrong

Charlie Wishman is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. -promoted by Laura Belin

The COVID-19 pandemic has been not only a public health disaster, but also an economic disaster. Many Iowans have experienced filing for unemployment for the first time this past year. As a result, many now realize just how important this lifeline can be for working people and their families. 

You can tell a lot about what kind of legislature we collectively elected by looking at how lawmakers respond to the economic disaster that is COVID-19. Right now, the Republican-controlled Iowa House and Senate are moving a bill forward that would reduce unemployment benefits, inexplicably, during a global pandemic. 

Are we as a state going to continue to allow the rich to stuff their pockets during this pandemic while families suffer? Or worse, will we actively encourage it? Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening now.

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