Iowa Libertarians have strong case against early candidate deadline

The Libertarian Party of Iowa and its prospective candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020 have filed a federal lawsuit charging that a new law violates their “violates fundamental voting and associational rights,” as well as equal protection guarantees, by requiring candidates from minor political parties to file nominating papers in mid-March, when Democratic or Republican candidates could qualify for the general election ballot as late as August.

Previous court rulings indicate they have a strong case.

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Iowa House bill would ensure more absentee ballots are counted

The controversial 2018 election result in Iowa House district 55 has inspired two legislative proposals related to late-arriving absentee ballots. The House State Government Committee on March 5 advanced a bill designed to enfranchise more Iowans who voted by mail, with uniform rules for all 99 counties.

The leader of the Iowa Senate State Government Committee would move in the opposite direction, excluding all ballots that arrive after election day, even if envelope markings could prove voters mailed them on time. That approach appears to be a non-starter for House Republicans.

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Secretary of State race: Brad Anderson's on tv, Paul Pate's on the radio

Both major-party candidates for Iowa secretary of state started running paid advertising within the past two days. After the jump I’ve enclosed the video and transcript of Democratic nominee Brad Anderson’s first television commercial, as well as my transcript of Republican Paul Pate’s first radio ad. Both candidates call for making it “easy to vote” but “hard to cheat” in elections. CORRECTION: Anderson’s ad was released online on October 9 but started running on television stations across Iowa on October 13.

I’ve also enclosed below the voter ID discussion from the debate Pate and Anderson held on Iowa Public Television last weekend. Pate has embraced outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s pet project, in the absence of any evidence that voter impersonation is a real problem in Iowa (or elsewhere). Anderson explains his plan to strengthen election integrity without changing current state law on voter ID.

Two other candidates are running for secretary of state this year. Libertarian Jake Porter is making his second attempt at the job. In 2010, he received about 3 percent of the statewide vote. To my knowledge, he has not run any paid advertising yet this year. When Iowa Public Television excluded him from the recent “Iowa Press” debate, Porter said he will consider a lawsuit and fight to reduce Iowa Public Television’s taxpayer funding. The fourth candidate on the ballot is the little-known Spencer Highland of the “New Independent Party Iowa.”

Closer to election day, Bleeding Heartland will post a comprehensive review of the this campaign. Public Policy Polling’s Iowa survey from late September found Pate slightly ahead of Anderson by 36 percent to 33 percent, with Porter and Highland pulling 3 percent each.

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Attorney General Eric Holder stepping down, with Iowa reaction

President Barack Obama announced today that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign as soon as a successor is confirmed. Carrie Johnson reported for National Public Radio,

Holder already is one of the longest-serving members of the Obama Cabinet and currently ranks as the fourth-longest tenured AG in history. Hundreds of employees waited in lines, stacked three rows deep, in early February 2009 to witness his return to the Justice Department, where he previously worked as a young corruption prosecutor and as deputy attorney general – the second in command – during the Clinton administration. […]

Holder most wants to be remembered for his record on civil rights: refusing to defend a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman; suing North Carolina and Texas over voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minorities and the elderly; launching 20 investigations of abuses by local police departments; and using his bully pulpit to lobby Congress to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Many of those sentences disproportionately hurt minority communities.

Republicans in Congress have long clashed with Holder over many issues, notably the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal and Holder’s original plan to prosecute the alleged plotters in the 9/11 attacks in federal court in New York City. (Eventually those cases were moved to military courts.)

I had very high hopes for Holder when Obama appointed him, and while he’s far from the worst in the current cabinet, he’s probably the most disappointing from my perspective. As Eric Posner explains well here, “Holder’s Justice Department has helped suppress civil liberties that interfere with what the Bush administration called the ‘war on terror,’ the currently nameless global operation to confront Islamic terrorism wherever it appears.” Although Holder doesn’t explicitly condone torture, the Department of Justice failed to prosecute CIA officials involved in torturing suspects.

Any comments about Holder’s legacy are welcome in this thread. I’ve enclosed below Senator Chuck Grassley’s comment on the attorney general’s plans to step down, and will update this post as needed with other Iowa reaction to the news.

P.S.-Although an early 2009 speech by Holder is now considered a “stumble” or gaffe, there was some truth in his observation, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

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IA-03: Matt Schultz still posturing as hero battling "voter fraud"

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz just can’t quit the fantasy that he has saved Iowans from a major “voter fraud” problem. A new report from the Secretary of State’s Office may serve as a welcome distraction from his record of keeping some political appointees on the payroll, but it distorts the reality of election irregularities and ignores more important factors that keep some eligible voters from having their ballots count in Iowa elections.

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