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.
Articles about voting issues in Iowa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.