Democratic leaders in Iowa on Monday proposed a major change in the state’s presidential caucuses by allowing a form of absentee voting next year that aims to expand participation in the first 2020 nominating contest. It would let Iowa Democrats take part via telephone or online in one of six “virtual caucuses” during the week before the traditional Iowa caucuses. That would allow people to get involved even if they can’t attend the traditional gatherings in person because of a disability, work, parenting or another reason. If adopted it “will be the most significant changes to the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses since their inception in 1972,” Troy Price, the state party’s chairman, told reporters on a conference call.Full Article: Iowa Democrats Propose `Virtual' Caucuses for First Time in 2020 - Bloomberg.
Articles about voting issues in Iowa.
Iowa: A constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights may hinge on requirement to fully pay restitution | Des Moines Register
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution to automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons will face opposition from lawmakers who insist criminals must first repay all court-ordered restitution, legal and civil rights advocacy groups said. The proposal as currently written would restore voter rights to felons after they complete their sentence. More than 50,000 people would be affected. But some lawmakers have said felons should additionally be required to complete repayment of their court-ordered restitution before being allowed to cast ballots. No groups have registered in opposition to her plan. A legislative subcommittee will meet to discuss the issue for the first time Thursday at noon.Full Article: Felon voting rights: Iowa proposal faces opposition from hardliners.
Iowa: Voter ID: Judge strikes rule on absentee ballots as ‘irrational, illogical and wholly unjustifiable’ | Des Moines Register
An Iowa judge struck down part of a 2017 voter ID law dealing with absentee ballots — a decision opponents of the law say will make it easier for voters to get ballots and Secretary of State Paul Pate said will make it “easier to cheat.” Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano called the rule unlawful and blocked it from taking effect in a Wednesday ruling. The rule had prevented county auditors from using an existing statewide voter database to look up missing voter information when processing absentee ballot requests. Romano wrote that limiting auditors’ use of the database was “irrational, illogical, and wholly unjustifiable.” The decision was part of the larger legal fight over Iowa’s 2017 voter ID law, which went into full effect this year. A separate lawsuit seeks to overturn the entire law.Full Article: Iowa Voter ID: Judge strikes down part of state rules on absentee ballots.
The Iowa secretary of state’s rules implemented last year restricting how election officials verify absentee ballots is illegal, a state judge ruled Thursday, saying the secretary incorrectly interpreted state law. Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano temporarily enjoined enforcement of the new rules last July, which was upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court, and her 10-page ruling issued Wednesday and released publicly Thursday permanently blocked the new rules from being enforced. The ruling prevents the state from implementing regulations regarding verifying a voter’s legitimacy if their absentee ballot lacks a voter-verification number.Full Article: Iowa Judge Strikes Down Absentee-Ballot Rules.
Iowa House Republicans are ending their review of a contested Statehouse race separated by nine votes, arguing that a set of rejected ballots at the heart of the challenge shouldn’t be opened or counted. The announcement Wednesday by a key Republican lawmaker greatly diminishes Democrat Kayla Koether’s chances of getting the Iowa Legislature to accept 29 rejected mail-in ballots in the House District 55 race. Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, was declared the winner in the race and took his seat this year. Rep. Steven Holt, a Denison Republican overseeing a five-member, GOP-led special election committee, said Republicans believe election law doesn’t allow the ballots to be reviewed. “We lack the legal authority to open these ballots,” Holt said.Full Article: Iowa House Republicans to end review of contested election.
Iowa: Reynolds’ proposal to restore felon voting rights requires probation, parole | Des Moines Register
Felons in Iowa would be allowed to register to vote after completing their prison sentences, probation and parole under a proposed constitutional amendment Gov. Kim Reynolds released Tuesday. Reynolds proposed restoring felon voting rights in her Condition of the State address last week. Iowa is one of two states that permanently bar felons from voting unless they successfully petition the governor or president to restore their rights. To be enacted, the proposal would need to pass the Legislature twice and then be approved by voters. “I do think Iowans are at a place that they believe that this is the right direction to go, but ultimately, they’ll be the ones to have a say in that,” Reynolds said.Full Article: Reynolds' proposal to restore felon voting rights requires probation, parole.
Gov. Kim Reynolds will propose a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to convicted felons in a Condition of the State address that highlights “the beauty of grace” and second chances. “Talk with someone who, by their own actions, hit rock bottom but decided to turn their life around,” Reynolds will say Tuesday, according to her prepared remarks, portions of which were shared exclusively with the Des Moines Register. “Watch their face light up when they tell you about the person who offered them a helping hand. … There are few things as powerful as the joy of someone who got a second chance and found their purpose.”Full Article: Reynolds to propose lifting felon voting ban in Condition of the State.
There is a proven fix for Iowa’s felon voting ban that has mistakenly rejected the ballots of law-abiding Iowans: Let felons vote once they’ve served their time, dozens of civil and legal groups say. It’s an idea Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ staff is reviewing with some key lawmakers in her party, a state senator said recently. Reynolds could make the change by executive order, but both the Republican senator and a Democratic House member said they want to look at legislative action to change the system in some way this year. “We need to talk about this in a way that gets rid of those pejorative attitudes about criminal reform that are just getting us stuck,” said Myrna Loehrlein, the chairwoman of a justice committee with the League of Women Voters of Iowa.Full Article: Iowa elections: Push is on to ease restoration of felon voting rights.
Despite having been mailed back before the November election, 29 absentee ballots in Northeast Iowa’s House District 55 race — which was decided by a mere nine votes — were never postmarked and therefore cannot be counted, state officials say. But they could have been counted by now if Winneshiek County had availed itself of a safeguard the Iowa Legislature approved two years ago — an “intelligent bar code” that can verify if mailed-in ballots meet the deadline even if they are not postmarked. That safeguard is voluntary, and currently is used by only seven of Iowa’s 99 counties. It adds a few pennies to the cost of each mailed-in ballot, and takes time to set up. But there is no assurance the Postal Service will postmark each letter, and therefore no assurance that absentee votes mailed in on time will ever be counted.Full Article: Mailing codes could have called close Iowa race | News | southernminn.com.
Iowa: Should Iowa restore voting rights to 52,000 felons? Advisory board pushes proposal. | Des Moines Register
Iowa felon voter rights should be restored, a legislative advisory board recommended Wednesday. It’s a proposal that could affect about 52,000 Iowans. After Florida voters on Nov. 6 approved an amendment to their state’s constitution that automatically restores the voting rights of felons who’ve completed their sentences or go on probation, Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that permanently ban all felons from voting unless the governor individually restores their rights. “Iowa has been a leader on a whole range of civil rights issues; this is not one of them. Iowa is in the back of the line on this one,” Daniel Zeno, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said Wednesday to Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board.Full Article: Should Iowa restore voting rights to 52,000 felons? Advisory board pushes proposal..
Iowa officials say they are using old-school technology — namely paper ballots — to thwart cyberterrorists employing sophisticated methods from trying to hack into the state’s voting systems. Iowa officials held a Statehouse news conference Monday to assure voters who already are casting early ballots in the run-up to the Nov. 6 general election that steps are being taken to ensure the integrity of the process and trust in the final outcome. “We vote on paper ballots,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is on that ballot because he faces a challenge from Democrat Deidre DeJear. “This a crucial security measure. You can’t hack a paper ballot.” The state of Iowa’s computer systems face thousands of attacks on a daily basis, said Jeff Franklin of the Iowa Office of the Chief Information Officer. However, there is no evidence of any unauthorized intrusions into the election system, he noted, mainly because outside of voter registration very little of Iowa’s process or voting equipment is web-based.Full Article: Iowa's shield against election cyberattacks: paper ballots | The Gazette.
Students, public officials and action groups are asking Iowa State to make voting easier for students as Iowa’s new voter ID laws will be in partial effect for 2018’s midterm election. The law, signed in 2017 by former Gov. Terry Branstad and championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, adds a requirement for voters to present a valid form of identification in order to ensure their eligibility, amongst other regulations, but some say this could pose a threat to the integrity of the system it was designed to protect. However, most of the law’s provisions won’t be in effect for this election, due to an injunction filed by Taylor Blair, president of Iowa State’s College Democrats, alongside the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.Full Article: Advocacy groups fear Iowa voter ID laws disenfranchise students | News | iowastatedaily.com.
Secretary of State Paul Pate — the commisioner of Iowa elections — said Tuesday there is no way for hackers to alter votes in Iowa because every one of the state’s voters cast a paper ballot. “In Iowa, we don’t vote on the internet…so you can’t be voting from Moscow, Russia. You can’t. The only ones that I would let vote from Moscow are the folks from Moscow, Iowa,” Pate said. “That’s it.” Pate spoke yesterday on The Des Moines Register’s Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair. Pate warned the crowd “bad actors” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook may try to sow doubt about election results.Full Article: Secretary of State Pate says hackers cannot alter votes on paper ballots - Radio Iowa.
Attorneys for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate were at the Iowa Supreme Court today, arguing for reinstatement of parts of Iowa’s new Voter ID law. Requiring an ID at the polls doesn’t take effect until next year, but new rules for absentee ballots went into effect this year. Last month, a district court judge issued a temporary injunction halting those parts of the law. The Secretary of State wants the injunction lifted so the new absentee ballot rules can be in effect for the November election.Full Article: Voter ID Law Argued; November Election At Stake | Iowa Public Radio.
An Iowa judge Wednesday issued a temporary injunction barring the state from implementing some provisions of Iowa’s new voter ID law. The ruling, for now, restores the absentee early voting period from 29 days to 40 days and blocks certain ID requirements of the law, passed by the GOP-led Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Terry Branstad in May 2017. Polk County District Judge Karen Romano ruled that elements of the state’s new system requiring state-issued voter identification numbers on absentee ballots could harm the rights of voters to participate in elections, “in contravention” of Iowa’s Constitution.Full Article: Voting Rights Advocates Score a Temporary Victory in Iowa.
Iowa: Judge tells state to undo some early voting restrictions for 2018 election | Des Monies Register
An Iowa judge this week blocked some provisions of a 2017 voter identification law and required the state to restore its early voting period to 40 days, from 29, for November’s midterm elections. Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano granted the temporary injunction in an order made public Wednesday. She found that the law, and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s efforts to promote it, “substantially and directly interfere with Iowans’ constitutional rights to vote.” She also found the state had “suggested no real threat to the integrity of Iowa’s voting system” if the law’s requirements were blocked.Full Article: Iowa voter ID law: Judge tells state to undo some early voting restrictions for 2018 election.
Petitioners challenging Iowa’s voter ID law were in Polk County District court Friday, urging a district judge to temporarily halt enforcement of parts of the law. Ames resident Taylor Blair and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa are suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over the law. The requirements in the law to show identification at the polls don’t go into effect until next year. But on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for a temporary injunction to stop the parts of the law that are already in effect dealing with absentee ballots.Full Article: Arguments Presented in Voter ID Lawsuit | Iowa Public Radio.
Sara Hornick and her husband, Chris, took their children to Southwest Middle School at 8 a.m. Tuesday to showcase the democratic process at work. In the parking lot, a man was shouting. “Turn around. Don’t waste your time. We can’t vote, anyway!” Determined, she continued onward. At the desk where she’d normally verify her registration, a worker told her the electronic device — an e-poll book — wasn’t working. “Any idea when it will be?” she asked. “We have no idea,” the poll worker said, who then suggested she contact the Pennington County auditor. It was a scene taking place at polling places across Rapid City. More than half the voting sites, 16 in all, extended the closing time on Tuesday’s election day to accommodate a late start to ballot-casting thanks to a computer problem: The county-issued Dell Computers that navigated the new e-poll book service were not connecting to the secure hot spots provided by a separate router for each device.Full Article: Auditor says internet connection issues caused voting delays | News | rapidcityjournal.com.
Iowa’s top election official said a campaign appeared to be responsible for texting voters incorrect information about polling places. But Secretary of State Paul Pate wouldn’t identify the campaign, telling reporters Tuesday afternoon there seemed to be “nothing malicious” about the text messages. Voters reported the texts to auditors in Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Winneshiek counties, Pate said. He was unsure how many voters received them. The text messages were sent from a toll-free number, which could not be independently tracked to its source. “I think it’s under control,” Pate said, adding that he wouldn’t comment further until the details were verified.Full Article: Iowa Primary 2018: Campaign texts voters with wrong polling places.
A Latino civil rights organization and an Iowa State University student filed a lawsuit calling the state’s new voter ID law unconstitutional and particularly burdensome for minority, disabled and elderly voters. The legislation at issue, House File 516, was passed on a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad last year. It made a number of significant changes to the Hawkeye State’s voting laws, including a requirement that voters show a photo ID or an approved substitute ID at the polls, as well as new restrictions on absentee ballots and the elimination of straight-party voting. According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Polk County District Court, HF 516 “severely burdens and abridges Iowans’ fundamental right to vote.”Full Article: Civil Rights Group Blasts Iowa’s Voter ID Law.