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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Iowa SOS will need permission for future emergency election changes

Secretary of State Paul Pate will need approval from the Legislative Council in order to use his emergency powers to alter election procedures, under a bill Governor Kim Reynolds signed on June 25.

While Republicans have a majority on that legislative body, it’s not clear they would use that power to prevent Pate from repeating steps that led to record-breaking turnout for the June 2 primary.

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Court puts four new Iowa voting restrictions on hold (updated)

A Polk County District Court has ordered that four voting restrictions Iowa Republicans enacted in 2017 will be on hold pending resolution of a lawsuit the League of United Latin American Citizens and Iowa State University student Taylor Blair filed in May. Plaintiffs had requested the temporary injunction, noting that the new law (House File 516) could disenfranchise eligible voters in various ways and would disproportionately harm Democrats, who are more likely to cast early ballots.

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Paul Pate ignorant about his own voter ID law

Olivia Habinck is a Des Moines Area Community College student and president of the College and Young Democrats of Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On April 13 I participated in the Iowa Secretary of State’s Student Voter Engagement Summit. This was the second time in the past six months Secretary Paul Pate has invited college students to meet with his staff.

First, I would like say that I appreciate the effort to reach out to college students. It is great the people at the Secretary of State’s office want (or appear to want) to hear our feedback. We have made it clear they could be doing more to increase voter turnout in the state, especially with the new voter ID law.

But I am frustrated by top election officials’ overall lack of understanding of how this new voter ID law affects Iowans and specifically college students.

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