Absentee ballots wrongly excluded in Iowa House district 55 (updated)

“Every vote should be counted,” Democratic challenger Kayla Koether said in a statement after a recount showed her trailing Republican State Representative Michael Bergan by nine votes in Iowa House district 55. Her comments suggest Koether is preparing litigation to force the counting of 33 absentee ballots, which were mailed on time but not counted because the envelopes lacked a certain kind of postmark.

If Koether does not file suit before election results are certified on December 3, one or more of the disenfranchised Winneshiek County voters should take legal action. Election officials did not properly interpret Iowa statute when they excluded those ballots.

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Buena Vista County part of DOJ's voter intimidation stunt

Buena Vista County in northwest Iowa is among 35 localities where U.S. Department of Justice personnel will “monitor compliance with the federal voting rights laws” on November 6, the Justice Department revealed this morning. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned, “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”

There is no documented incident of voter fraud in Buena Vista County, just one “accident involving human error” in 2016. So why would the DOJ single out this area for scrutiny?

Like the other jurisdictions the DOJ is targeting, Buena Vista has a large non-white population. Voting rights advocates saw Sessions’ announcement as an effort to intimidate eligible voters.

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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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Only 35 Iowans regained voting rights in Reynolds' first year as governor

Governor Kim Reynolds restored voting rights to 35 Iowans during her first year in the state’s top office. That number represents less than one-tenth of 1 percent of at least 60,000 Iowans who are ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction. Just 241 Iowans–less than one-half of 1 percent of those disenfranchised–have regained their voting rights since Governor Terry Branstad changed the system seven years ago to require a cumbersome application process.

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Jason Kander: If you come for our right to vote, we're coming for your job

“Iowa is on the front lines of this fight for voting rights in America,” Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander told state Democratic convention delegates on June 16. “And I’m here because a threat to democracy anywhere in America is a threat to democracy everywhere in America.”

The founder of Let America Vote was the only non-Iowan on the convention speaker’s list. His remarks were a highlight of the morning proceedings, so I’ve enclosed below the audio clip and full transcript. Among the memorable lines: “let’s send a message to every vote-suppressing politician in Iowa and across America that if you want to attack democracy, you’ve got to go through us. And if you want to come for our right to vote, we’re coming for your job.”

Kander has visited our state more than a dozen times in the last year and a half, raising awareness about voter suppression and headlining events for Democratic candidates or progressive organizations. Let America Vote’s executive director Abe Rakov has been based in Des Moines since last fall.

The group will particularly target the Iowa secretary of state race; Kander told reporters yesterday that Democratic nominee Deidre DeJear is “totally awesome.” (Fact check: true.) Let America Vote will also support some state legislative candidates. Last weekend they had interns out canvassing for four Democratic challengers in the suburbs of Des Moines: Heather Matson (House district 38), Karin Derry (House district 39), Kristin Sunde (House district 42), and Jennifer Konfrst (House district 43). Kander said on June 16 that Let America Vote has more than 40 interns on the ground in Iowa and knocked more than 7,000 doors here in the last five days.

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