Iowa’s county auditors are not happy about the proposed election integrity reforms being debated in the Iowa legislature. They’re not happy at all.
But they are completely misplacing their selective outrage about the needed reforms.
The Iowa legislature has little choice in strengthening our state’s election laws after seeing not one, not two, but three county auditors violate state election law in the 2020 general election.
Alan Ostergren, the president and chief counsel of Kirkwood Institute, pointed out that every judge who heard a case reached the same decision.
“That those auditors had overstepped their bounds and needed to be ordered to obey the law,” he said. “It shouldn’t take political campaigns and a candidate going to court to make Iowa public officials obey the law, they should do it on their own.”
And unfortunately, they didn’t. The county auditors in Woodbury, Linn and Johnson counties tried to skirt election law. They tried to take the law into their own hands.
And they lost.
And because of their efforts and willingness to violate state law, our state lawmakers should be expected to address the issues.
Andy Conlin said it pretty well during Monday’s public hearing on the election reform bill.
“Iowans in Denison should know that elections that are happening in Iowa City are happening exactly the same way as they are in their town and vice versa,” he said. “This is extremely important. Every Iowan should be voting by the same rules.”
Yes. Yes, they should.
Iowans in Denison should have the same access to voting as Iowans in Iowa City. And folks in Keokuk should have the same opportunity as the folks in Rock Rapids. And Dubuque. And Maple Valley. And — well, everywhere.
Ryan Dokter, the president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors and Sioux County Auditor, acknowledged that uniformity in elections is a good thing, but said allowing the counties to do something “slightly different” is also a good thing.
No, it isn’t. Because then there is no longer equal access to voting. When voters in one county have more access than another, it isn’t right.
A number of county auditors testified in opposition to the bill. And I get it. I do. Nobody likes having their own wrists slapped.
But what the county auditors have to understand is the three rouge auditors brought this on themselves. And, unfortunately, all county auditors.
Perhaps if the auditor’s association would’ve done a better job of policing their own, the legislature wouldn’t have to step in and clean up the mess.
The solution is simple for county auditors. And nobody says it better than Fletcher Reede from Liar, Liar: