# Voting Rights



"Now ask the Legislature to do its duty"

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

People my age look back and exclaim how fast time flies. We reflect on what we learned as children and how that shaped who we became.

This column is published on my 72nd birthday. Were I born only 72 years earlier—in 1878—and growing up in Muscatine, I could have witnessed firsthand the oratory of our famous “colored” neighbor Alexander Clark. As an 11-year old, I could have attended the sendoff celebration when he departed for Liberia as the new U.S. consul, one of the highest honors accorded any Black person in 19th century America.

I like to believe I’d have felt proud of our town—Clark’s chosen home since 1842—and proud of our state where his achievements had been important and lauded.

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A case for Iowa to hold open primaries

Doris J. Kelley is a former member of the Iowa House and former Iowa Board of Parole Chair, Vice-Chair and Executive Director.

With Iowa in its 177th year of statehood (December 28, 1846), we should have our ducks in a row by. But, we are one of six states still in the dark ages when it comes to the primary election process.

Iowa, along with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Wyoming operate their primary elections, which selects candidates before the general election, under a process referred to as “partially open.” This system permits voters to cross party lines, but they are required to change their party affiliation.

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What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa absentee ballot (2022 edition)

When Iowa Republicans enacted new restrictions on absentee voting in 2021, they increased the risk of voting by mail. At least 150 ballots (and probably more) that Iowans mailed before the June primary election were not counted because they arrived too late.

The latest figures released by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office suggest that more than 35,000 absentee ballots requested for this general election had not reached county auditors by the close of business on November 2. In Polk County alone, 7,636 ballots mailed to voters are still outstanding.

If you have not yet returned your absentee ballot for the November 8 election, do not put it in the mail now. All ballots must arrive at the county auditor’s office by 8:00 pm on election day. Late-arriving ballots will not be counted, regardless of any postmark or barcode on the envelope. Many of the ballots not counted in the June primary were mailed several days before that election.

Here are four options:

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Senior GOP lawmaker misled elderly Iowan on early voting options

State Representative John Wills bragged in a recent Facebook post that he had reassured an elderly housebound voter, who was worried about getting an absentee ballot. The third-ranking Iowa House Republican told the story to show the “mantra that Republicans are trying to prevent people who don’t think like us from voting is false.”

More than a dozen Iowa Republican lawmakers and legislative candidates liked Wills’ self-congratulatory post.

There was just one problem: thanks to changes Wills and his colleagues enacted in 2021, the deadline for that woman to request an absentee ballot had already passed.

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On cheating in politics

Jim Chrisinger: Cheating by violating the spirit (though not the letter) of the law corrupts our democracy and alienates us from each other.  

Fair play is a bedrock American value. Fair play follows from our egalitarian origins: all persons are created equal and endowed with rights. Fair play means we all play by the rules. Treat others as you want to be treated. Play by the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.  

We feel strongly about fair play because it springs from emotion as much as logic.  

The opposite of fair play is cheating. Cheating shows a lack of integrity and a total failure of character. No one likes a cheater.  

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Whites and Blacks together?

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

“We never had race trouble here.” I hear this often. I call it the Nice Iowans fairytale.

Take this comment posted on the Muscatine Journal’s website recently: “Throughout all of lowa, Black children regularly attended school with their White neighbors at this time, and at all times in history. lowa has never had any such thing as ‘segregated’ schools—ever.”

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