Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Governor approves changes in Iowa election law, legal challenge filed soon after
(Radio Iowa) - Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that shortens Iowa’s early voting period by nine days.
The changes were approved by Republicans in the legislature and go into effect immediately. In a written statement, the governor said the new law gives Iowans “even greater confidence to cast their ballots.” Absentee ballots will now have to be in a county auditors’ offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day and 8 p.m. is the new closing time for voting at polling places on Election Day for statewide and federal elections. It had been an hour later.
County auditors lose some discretion in making local decisions. They can no longer set up satellite early voting sites on their own, plus county auditors could be charged with a felony for failing to follow the Secretary of State’s rules for the administration of election. That move comes after three county auditors sent absentee ballot request forms to voters this past fall that included voter information. The Secretary of State had ordered all forms to be blank.
A lawsuit has been filed seeking to block the changes on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Marc Elias, the lead attorney, said the voting restrictions in the new law “create an undue burden on the right to vote in violation of the Iowa Constitution.” Marc Elias, an attorney who successfully argued against dozens of the 2020 election law challenges filed by Republicans, said this is “the first major (voter) suppression law since the 2020 election.” The lawsuit cites the record turnout for the 2020 election and accuses Republican lawmakers of making it a priority to pass a bill that “restricts nearly every form of voting” that Iowans relied upon last year.
The new law cuts the early voting period from 29 to 20 days, reduces the time during which Iowans can ask for an absentee ballot, and closes Election Day voting an hour earlier.
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