# Voting Rights



What to do if you haven't returned your Iowa primary absentee ballot

Iowa’s June 7 primary election will be the first conducted under restrictions on absentee voting that Republicans enacted in 2021.

Two changes in particular greatly increase the risk that Iowans attempting to vote by mail will not have their ballots counted. First, 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. So at this writing, it’s far too late to safely put a ballot in the mail.

Second, Republicans made it much harder for voters to have someone else hand-deliver their completed absentee ballot.

If you have an ballot sitting at home, do not mail it on Monday. Here are your best options for making sure your vote will be counted.

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Thoughts on the French presidential election and voter turnout

Matt Hardin suggests five reforms to make voting easier in the U.S., modeled on how presidential elections are conducted in France.

I recently took a vacation to Paris and got to see French democracy up close.

While my wife and I were there, France held the second and final round of its presidential election, which is a simple runoff between the top two candidates from the first round.

On April 24 the incumbent president, Emmanuel Macron, soundly defeated the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, 59 percent to 41 percent. One of the most reported-on figures in the French media was the abstention rate—the percent of registered voters who didn’t vote.

According to the French, the 28 percent abstention rate (so, 72 percent turnout) is an alarming sign for their democracy. Usually, only about 15 to 20 percent of French voters stay home.

Despite the hand wringing in France, the comparatively low abstention and high turnout stunned me. I wanted to understand how they do it.

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Court: Iowa's early filing deadline for third parties unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that Iowa’s early filing deadline for third-party candidates “imposes a substantial burden” on the Libertarian Party of Iowa’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Iowa legislators changed the state’s election law in 2019 to require independent candidates or those affiliated with a non-party political organization (like the Libertarian or Green Party) to file nominating papers for state or federal offices by mid-March, the same deadline as for Democrats and Republicans running in primaries.

The Libertarian Party and Jake Porter, the party’s 2018 nominee for governor, filed suit in 2019, saying the change put “heavy burdens” on third parties, and the adverse treatment served no legitimate state interest.

Helen Adams, chief magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, ruled on April 8 that Iowa’s legal framework places third parties “at a disadvantage” compared to the major parties, and the state’s “articulated interest in effective and equitable administration of election laws” did not justify those burdens.

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RJ Miller: Why I'm running for Iowa House district 34

RJ Miller: I chose to run to take the voices of my community and make their voices louder.

I am a community activist who’s been organizing in Des Moines since 2019 around the issues of racial discrimination, civil and human rights, and urban violence.  Originally a victim of gun violence in Minneapolis, I overcome the obstacles of gang activity and incarceration in order to inspire and support my community in a collective effort to defeat the issues that plague the inner city. 

My mission is to uplift, empower, and transform the Des Moines community through restorative justice, empowering the youth, and investing in solutions that will combat the forces of colonization and oppression at large.

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Van Lancker highlights early voting in first ad

Iowa Democrats have only two competitive statewide primaries this year: for U.S. Senate and for secretary of state. Both Democrats running for the latter office are long-serving county auditors who are not widely known outside their home counties (Linn County for Joel Miller and Clinton County for Eric Van Lancker).

Van Lancker began introducing himself to a wider circle of voters this week with his first digital ad. The 60-second spot highlights the benefits of early voting. According to an April 5 news release, the campaign will release a 30-second version of this ad for television in May. Under a law Republicans enacted last year, Iowa’s early voting period will begin on May 18, just 20 days before the June 7 primary.

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This one neat trick saved Tom Miller's candidacy

Attorney General Tom Miller can remain on the Democratic primary ballot, the State Objection Panel affirmed on March 29, after determining his campaign had collected at least 77 valid signatures in eighteen counties, as required by Iowa law.

If he had been knocked off the ballot, Miller could have been nominated at the Iowa Democratic Party’s statewide convention in June. However, failing to qualify would have been an embarrassing misstep for a longtime office-holder.

Almost all of the legal arguments Miller’s representative advanced failed to convince a majority of the three panel members: Secretary of State Paul Pate, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, and State Auditor Rob Sand. But one neat trick forced the two Republicans to accept enough Story County signatures for the campaign to cross the threshold.

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