Mar 22, 2021 - News

Iowa's urban areas are increasingly Democratic, driving efforts to limit early voting

Data: Iowa Secretary of State; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Voter registrations that show growing Democratic trends in urban areas give insight into laws that greatly limit our ability to vote early, Drake political science professor Arthur Sanders tells Axios.

Driving the news: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this month signed a bill that:

  • Further cuts the early voting period from 29 to 20 days. (It was 40 days just four years ago.)
  • Requires ballots to be received by poll closing time. (They previously had nearly a week to arrive via the mail.)
  • Closes polls at 8pm, an hour earlier.
  • Limits who can return ballots to your immediate family, a household member or caregiver. (You had the freedom to designate anyone to carry out that duty in the past.)
  • Restricts ballot drop-off boxes to one per county.

A national trend: Republicans in dozens of states have already passed similar laws or are in the process of taking similar actions.

  • Advocates contend the efforts address election security concerns while some have acknowledged political motives.
  • Critics say the laws are grounded in bogus election fraud claims that disenfranchise working class and minority groups who tend to vote more Democratic.

Iowa is a microcosm of the nation, Sanders said.

  • "The harder you make it to vote, the more you affect more marginal voters and those voters tend to be Democrats. We know this from studying voter turnout," Sanders told Jason.

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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