What Kanye West's candidacy says about Iowa's process and Iowa Republicans

When Iowans begin voting on October 5, they will see nine tickets for president and vice president at the top of the ballot.

The most controversial campaign may be that of Kanye West, widely seen as a stalking horse for President Donald Trump and a gravy train for Republican campaign consultants. He has been knocked off the ballot in some states but survived two objections to his candidacy in Iowa last week.

West’s inclusion reflects well on Iowa’s ballot access policies but poorly on the Republican operatives who got his name in front of voters.

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Republicans press weak case against Linn, Johnson absentee mailings

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and four Republican Party entities filed suit on August 12, seeking to invalidate tens of thousands of absentee ballot request forms in two large, Democratic-leaning Iowa counties. The plaintiffs allege Linn County Auditor Joel Miller and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert committed “illegal actions” when they mailed absentee ballot request forms that were pre-printed with voters’ information.

The Republican lawsuit is heavy on political posturing but fails to lay out a convincing legal case.

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Conflict escalates over absentee request mailings in Linn, Johnson counties

Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate appears to be on a collision course with election administrators in Iowa’s second- and fourth-largest counties, which both lean Democratic.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert have proceeded with mailing absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter in their jurisdictions, with voters’ information filled in. Miller’s office has nearly completed is mailing, and thousands of Linn County voters have already returned their forms. Weipert’s staff mailed the first batch of pre-filled absentee ballot request forms to Johnson County residents on July 27.

The same day, Pate’s staff attorney wrote to Miller and Weipert, asking dozens of questions about the mailings and demanding a broad array of relevant documents. Those letters sounded like the precursor to legal action.

Also on July 27, the lead attorney for the Republican National Committee asked Pate to take emergency action to block the Linn and Johnson County mailings and declare the forms invalid. His letter indicated that the national party may sue to stop Miller and Weipert from giving voters in their counties a supposedly “unconstitutional advantage in the November election.”

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Iowa Republicans may regret blocking statewide absentee ballot mailing

July 6 was the first day Iowans can request an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election. Under normal circumstances, I prefer voting early in person and have encouraged others to do the same. But voting by mail is by far the safest option for 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislators signaled last week they won’t allow Secretary of State Paul Pate to send absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter again.

Election officials in Iowa’s largest counties aren’t waiting to see how things play out. Several auditors are already making plans for their own universal mailings. Higher turnout in those counties should benefit Democratic candidates for federal offices and state legislative seats.

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More people of color running for Iowa legislature in 2020 (updated)

UPDATE: As of August, people of color who will appear on the general election ballot as candidates for the Iowa legislature include nine Democrats, seven Republicans, one Libertarian, and one independent. I’ve added details in the original post, which follows.

After a decade of little change in the racial breakdown of the Iowa House and Senate, more people of color are running for the state legislature this year.

Candidates appearing on today’s primary ballot include eight Democrats and seven eight Republicans, which to my knowledge is a record for the Iowa GOP.

In addition, three people of color representing minor parties have filed as general election candidates in state legislative districts.

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