The Republican auditor from Sioux County spoke out against proposed changes to Iowa’s election laws that will help strengthen election integrity.
Ryan Dokter, the Sioux County Auditor, represents a county that is deep red. In fact, 82.7 percent of voters in Sioux County voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2020.
The county GOP platform states explicitly it supports common-sense voter ID laws — including the use of photo IDs.
“We believe voter fraud penalties should be reviewed,” the platform says. “We believe that proof of citizenship for absentee voting should be required.”
Dokter, president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, testified against the Senate bill.
“The bill gives the Secretary of State broad authority for local elections which may take away some of the local decision-making of county auditors,” Dokter said.
Dokter expressed concerns that the bill makes the failure to perform election duties a crime if county auditors do not adhere to the law.
“We make mistakes at times and the severe penalties may deter good, qualified people from public service,” Dokter said.
Dokter also expressed objection to decreasing the number of absentee voting days.
“Auditors would also be forbidden to send out absentee request mailings county-wide, which does help mitigate our workload for larger elections and helps us reduce errors in that regard,” Dokter said.
The bill restricts who can return ballots on behalf of voters. It also disallows auditors from establishing satellite voting centers, which Dokter said could create lines at the polls.
But what Dokter doesn’t acknowledge are the reasons some of these updates are necessary.
County auditors in Iowa intentionally violated the law this past election by mailing out absentee request forms with information prepopulated.
They openly defied the law, knowing they were going to be challenged in court and they did it anyway. This not only led to vulnerabilities in Iowa’s election system, but it also cost taxpayers money.
The bill will update and add new penalties for election misconduct. Should an election official fail to perform their duties or hinder or disregard the law, it will now be a Class D felony.