Feb 26, 2021 - Politics

Early-voting bill goes to Reynolds' desk

Gov. Kim Reynolds during the 2020 RNC. Photo: Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images

All eyes are on Gov. Kim Reynolds' desk, where a bill scaling back early voting in Iowa awaits her signature after it passed the state Legislature late Wednesday.

Why it matters: Iowans cast a record-breaking 1 million early votes in 2020. But under the bill, they would have less time to send out their absentee ballots if they want to vote by mail in future elections.

The bill would:

  • Reduce early voting days from 29 to 20.
  • Close polls at 8pm instead of 9pm.
  • Require absentee ballots to arrive by the time polls close, versus being postmarked the day before the election.
  • Shorten deadlines for absentee ballot requests and voter pre-registration to 15 days before Election Day. (It's currently 10.)
  • Create felony charges for county auditors who don't follow election guidance from the Iowa Secretary of State, according to IPR.

The state of play: Republicans agree voter fraud was not an issue in Iowa last year.

  • Reynolds herself confirmed there was no election fraud locally, but she said she believes there are ways to "enhance and improve" Iowa's elections.
  • But legislators like Sen. Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City) said they're skeptical of election integrity in other states, which he said is the motivation for the bill, according to Radio Iowa.

The other side: Democrats argue the bill suppresses votes and creates unnecessary barriers when there was no evidence of fraud in the most recent election.

  • "Are voters asking for one less hour to vote?" said Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights) according to the Register.

What to watch for: Reynolds' spokesperson told the Register she is not signing any bills this week.

  • If she does sign it into law, expect lawsuits.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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