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Last week the State Government Committee reported out House Study Bill 697, renumbered as House File 2610, dealing with elections. The bill makes several changes to complete the security of absentee ballots, ensuring accurate reporting of receipt of ballots, and assist in the timely delivery of absentee ballots to voters who request them.

In 2017 Iowa enacted voter identification requirements. Iowa Code extends this requirement to voters requesting an absentee ballot to provide the same information as a person registering to vote must provide. This can be a voter’s driver’s license number or the voter’s voter identification number. Currently, there is no required identifying information required to return a completed ballot. In order to ensure that the ballot has been completed and returned by the voter who requested the ballot, HF 2610 requires that the voter sign an affidavit envelope and affix their driver’s license number or voter identification number before placing it in a secrecy envelop to return it. Each envelope is affixed with the same serial number to confirm that the absentee ballot was completed and returned by the requester. These requirements are the same information a voter who votes in person must provide in order to cast a ballot.

Another change the bill makes regarding absentee ballots is the requirement that they arrive to the county auditor’s office before 5PM the Monday before an election and requires the county auditor to report the ballot as received. This change is to provide more accurate information for absentee voters to know if their ballot has arrived in time or not. If enacted, this change allows the voter to know for certain that they have successfully voted absentee or that they will need to go to their polling location the next day. To ensure that this change does not limit the window a absentee voter has to complete and return their ballots, the bill authorizes county auditors to mail absentee ballots two days earlier than current law.

Author: Taylor Collins


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