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Recently, there has been a lot of misinformation about 2 bills that the Iowa House passed on election law.  There were two bills that were passed this year.  The two bills are somehow, either purposefully or mistakenly, a part of a misinformation campaign where people are informed that Republicans passed bills that are voter suppression or eliminates absentee voting.  These claims are nothing more than what Representative Bobby Kaufman the Chair of the State Government Committee and the floor manager for these bills calls “election-year attack pieces full of false information with an agenda to score political points”. 

The goal of these bills was to make sure our elections are safe and easy while also ensuring the security of the ballots at the same time we are putting guide rails on the executive branch of our state government.  The reason for providing guide rails on the executive branch of our state government comes from actions that our Secretary of State (a Republican) did.  The first bill dealt with the Secretary of State and a couple other minor tweaks to our election law.  I have heard from constituents and listened to both sides of the issue and the Secretary of State’s emergency powers are nearly unlimited and have no checks or balances from the State Legislature.   The legislation that passed requires the Secretary of State run any election changes passed the State Legislature in the future.  That is it.  There is no change to absentee ballots, no change to what County Auditors can do, and no change to absentee ballot access.  This bill passed the State House 94 to 2, a very bipartisan bill. 

The second bill deals with election security with absentee ballots to ensure that people who request a ballot are, in fact, the ones who are getting the ballot.  The bill simply says if you fill out an absentee ballot request form wrong or if you forget something then the auditor is allowed to contact you to verify you are the one who requested it.  It spelled out questions the Auditor can ask so there is no question about what is permitted or not permitted.  The Auditor can ask things like your last name, social security number, middle name, or address.  State Rep. Bobby Kaufman explained it like this, “That is all this bill does and it is no different than if you forget your password for online banking, your credit card, or a loan at the bank”. 

Contrary to the talking points that have been spread throughout the state there is no voter suppression or stoppage of absentee ballots.  These bills do not require you to go to the Auditors office to vote, they do not prohibit anyone from sending an absentee ballot request form to anyone, and they do not make it harder for you to vote.  They simply put guide rails on what the executive branch of our State government can do without checks and make our election system more secure for voters. 

It is a sad situation when people use outright lies and misinformation to try and win elections but that is what this is.  These bills are good for Iowa and keep our election system one of the best in the Nation and something to be proud of.  I am proud of the work that was done on these two bills and am happy that you trust me enough to send me to the concrete of Des Moines to represent our NW Iowa values.

John Wills

Author: John Wills