# Commentary



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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50 years ago, a victory for women's bodily autonomy in West Des Moines

Ken Tilp was a high school teacher of Latin and French for 21 years before becoming president of the Iowa State Education Association for four years. He then worked for the Michigan Education Association for fourteen years, retiring in 2004.

It’s the 50th anniversary of a significant change in the West Des Moines, Iowa, school district personnel policy manual: teachers were no longer required to tell their building principal as soon as they found out they were pregnant.

The school board authorized a committee to review personnel policy, comprised of Bruce Graves, a school board member and young, progressive lawyer; Assistant Superintendent Mel Antrim (known to the elementary teachers as “Apple ass Antrim”); and Ken Tilp, 7th year teacher of Latin and president of the 300-member teachers association.

Catch this: during our discussion about why the requirement should be removed, Antrim said something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t know if I want my child sitting in a classroom with a teacher’s water breaking.”

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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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For PTSD Awareness Month, veterans need allies and advocates

David Farwell of Spillville, Iowa is a service-connected PTSD disabled veteran and activist for veteran health services as owed to them by law.  

I’ve moved 49 times in 50 years, which is not surprising for a military brat and former global project leader at an international corporation.  

What may be surprising is why my last move was from a Chicago high-rise to Spillville, Iowa, and how an invisible epidemic shattered my life, ended my career and brought me to the tiny town in Iowa where Dvorak completed his New World Symphony.

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A cleaner grid is a more reliable, resilient grid

Andy Johnson is executive director of Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, which was first to publish this commentary.

The June 2 print edition of the Des Moines Register led with the headline, “Iowans warned of rolling blackouts.” Utility sources quoted in the article repeatedly tried to connect the growth of renewable energy with a less reliable grid.

As Mark Twain said: “Few things are more irritating than when someone who is wrong is also very effective in making his point.” Sure, it sounds sensible that closing “baseload” coal plants and replacing them with “variable” renewables is a recipe for disaster. But that logic actually mixes apples and oranges—or corn and beans, or uff-da: 4-H and Future Farmers of America!

Here’s why we can’t blame renewables for the current grid challenges. In fact, the opposite is true: a clean energy future is the best recipe for a healthy, wealthy Iowa and a reliable, affordable grid.

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Pigs, poker, and prisons: remembering Carlos Jayne

Marty Ryan first published this reflection on the life and legacy of his good friend Carlos Jayne (1935-2022) on his blog.

As he lived, he died—fighting authority!

Legendary NFL Coach Bill Parcells said, “A friend’s someone that knows all about you and likes you anyway.” Carlos and I liked each other, even though he was a big Green Bay Packers fan, and the Pack was my least favorite football team. Therefore, we never talked football. We had coffee and chatted for about two hours monthly. As his health slipped from him, the frequency of our visits diminished.

I first met Carlos when I was a novice lobbyist for the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Iowa) and a bill reinstating the death penalty was introduced. A fellow lobbyist pointed at Carlos and told me, “You need to talk to that guy.” I introduced myself to him and he said: “It’s about damned time the ICLU had a lobbyist up here,” and he turned, walked away, and continued to do what he did—talk to anyone who would listen.

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