The Iowa House has passed a decent bill. House File 692, requiring all 99 counties to utilize absentee ballot tracking from the U.S. Postal Service. Secretary of State Paul Pate supported this mandatory approach with hopes it would be implemented by October 2020 for the next election.
The Senate has yet to take up this bill. They have a different bill that addresses the absentee ballot deadline differently.
It would be a significant change for Iowans in that this bill would require all absentee ballots to be received by the close of the polls on election day. There are a number of other provisions in this bill that are contentious: closing the polls an hour earlier on election day — eliminating satellite voting stations from state-owned buildings, like universities and the Iowa Veterans Home. But private colleges could continue satellite voting; removing graduating college students from the voter registration list at state universities, but not at private colleges or community colleges; requiring the county auditor’s office to verify signatures on absentee ballots; and prohibiting a county auditor from using the voter registration system to verify an incomplete absentee ballot request form.
Unfortunately, this bill has a strong feel of “voter suppression” to it. Our Senators should turn this bill down.
Instead, we need to ask our Senators to pass HF 692, as supported by our Secretary of State, to enfranchise more voters to participate in voting. Senator Jon Jacobsen, Republican, is the sponsor of HF692 and stated his belief “in expanding rights as generously as possible.” Subsequently, his bill is “a more expansive version to enhance absentee ballot voting.”
This would be a nonpartisan fix to determining the timeliness of absentee ballots that would keep the absentee balloting process as familiar to Iowa voters as it is now.