Iowa has one of the best election systems in the country. We consistently rank among the top 10 states for voter registration and participation. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we set turnout records in 2020 for the June primary and November general election. Now, politicians in Washington, D.C. want to dictate to Iowa and every other state how to run elections.
H.R. 1, passed by the U.S. House, and S. 1, currently under debate in the U.S. Senate, are attempts by the federal government to take over elections. Prior to ramming the bill through the U.S. House, members who voted in favor it did not seek input from election officials. If they had, they would have learned there is bipartisan opposition to it, for many reasons. Secretaries of State who are Democrats have described parts of H.R. 1. are “irresponsible”, “unworkable”, and “impossible”.
The U.S. Constitution clearly empowers the states, not the federal government, to oversee elections. Many of the provisions the federal government wants to force on every state, Iowa already has in place. However, other parts of the bill would strip away protections we have enacted to ensure the sanctity of the vote.
Poll after poll has shown 70% of Iowans and citizens across the country support Voter ID. Asking people to prove their identity before casting a ballot is a commonsense protection that has been in place in Iowa since 2018 and we have seen record voter participation three times since its implementation. Despite a ridiculous amount of hyperbole about how it would lead to “voter suppression”, opponents of Voter ID in Iowa have not identified a single voter who has been disenfranchised by the law.
H.R. 1 requires states to count ballots cast by voters outside of their assigned precinct, legalizes mass ballot harvesting, and enables taxpayer financing of politicians. Taxpayer dollars would be used to match 6-to-1 every campaign contribution up to $200. For every $200 donation to a politician, nearly $1,200 of taxpayer money also goes to that candidate.
Whether you like the candidate or not, your tax money would fund their campaign. U.S. Senate candidates that already receive tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions will receive millions more from taxpayers if this bill passes.
If Democrats in Washington really wanted to put meaningful election reforms in place, they would create a national address confidentiality system for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, and stalking like Iowa’s Safe at Home program. Having it in place nationally would allow participants to move to another state without concern of their records, including voter registration, becoming public. It provides an important layer of protection for people who need it and helps them participate in elections without fear of their abuser tracking them.
This bill is expensive, unnecessary, and is a huge federal overreach into state elections. It should be rejected.
Paul Pate is serving his third term as Iowa’s Secretary of State. He previously served as mayor of Cedar Rapids and as an Iowa State Senator.