Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Senate Republicans vote to change deadline for absentee ballot delivery

Republicans in the Iowa Senate have passed legislation to reduce the early voting period in Iowa by nine days and move up the deadline for getting absentee ballots to a county auditor’s office.

The bill also calls for the polls on Election Day to close an hour earlier, at 8 p.m.

Senator Jim Carlin of Sioux City, a Republican who announced last week he’ll run for the U.S. Senate in 2022, said Donald Trump’s loss is the reason the bill’s on the fast track at the statehouse.

“Millions and millions and millions believe there was fraud,” Carlin said. “Most of us in my caucus, the Republican caucus, believe the election was stolen.”

Senator Claire Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines, called the bill unnecessary.

“All it does is perpetuate the big lie that the election was not legitimate and Iowa is compelled to fix non-existent problems,” Celsi said.

All 18 Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill.

“The bill does not make voting more secure,” Bolkcom said. “It just makes it far more difficult.”

Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, said it’s not hard to vote in Iowa and this bill won’t change that.

“It takes effort — not much effort,” Whiting said. “Take your voter ID, take your ID, go to the polls, vote, request a ballot – those options existed…and they will endure even beyond this bill.”

Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, accused Republicans of acting like authoritarians.

“In Iowa, Republicans, heck you won! You won big in 2020 here!” Jochum said. “But nationally, you lost the presidency, so is that the excuse? Really?”

Republican Senator Roby Smith of Davenport, during final remarks on the legislation, called Democrats’ complaints “propaganda.”

“Anti-voter? Suppression? Tired old worn out talking point,” Smith said.

Smith’s bill establishes what he calls a “sure count” of mail-in ballots. Under current law, an absentee ballot mailed the Monday before the Election can be counted if it is delivered by the following Monday. The bill that cleared the Senate says mail-in ballots must be at the county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Night.

Republicans in the House plan to pass the bill later today.

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