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The United States Constitution specifically empowers state legislatures with authority over election law. The Iowa Senate takes that responsibility seriously and has made a number of changes over the last four years to improve the reliability and security of Iowa’s elections with common-sense reforms like requiring a voter identification at the polls, and a similar requirement for requesting an absentee ballot.

In 2020 a few county auditors attempted to violate Iowa law and circumvent the security measures implemented on Iowa absentee ballot request forms. County auditors are directed to implement election law, not write it. In response the Iowa Senate advanced SSB 1199 this week to improve the administration of elections and ensure one set of consistent and fair election laws are in place across the state regardless of if the county is in urban or rural, Republican or Democrat.

This bill also prohibits ballot harvesting. This practice typically involves partisans from a campaign or party soliciting the collection of absentee ballots and delivering them to the auditor. A number of stories have been told, even some in Iowa, of partisan actors failing to deliver voters ballots to the auditor, thus disenfranchising those voters. Postage is paid on all absentee ballots and caregivers and members of the same household are still able to help deliver a ballot.

SSB 1199 changes the beginning of early voting from 29 days before an election to 18 days before an election. According to the National Conference of State Legislators the average window for early voting in the US is 19 days. This change puts Iowa closer to that average.

A strong republic depends on the confidence of the people in the selection of their leaders. SSB 1199 continues to improve Iowa’s election law in an effort to bolster the confidence of Iowans in the electoral process by making it easy to vote but hard to cheat.

Author: Chris Cournoyer