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Bills in the Iowa Legislature would reduce the state’s early voting period

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:06 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - State lawmakers are getting close to a vote on multiple bills, which would change how elections are conducted in Iowa. The bill would limit the time for absentee voting and remove inactive voters faster.

House FIle 590 and Senate File 413, which both passed committee on Thursday, could head to the floor for a vote sometime this week. The bills would limit the time for absentee voting and remove inactive voters faster. The bills would also make it a criminal offense for auditors to break state election rules.

The bills come after multiple judges declared pre-filled-out absentee ballot forms invalid in multiple counties.

Travis Weipert, the Johnson County Auditor and one of the auditors who sent out those invalid absentee ballot forms, said he expected a piece of legislation similar to these bills.

“We knew that some state reps, state senators were going to be vindictive on what we did,” Weipert said.

Weipert said he believes these bills are efforts at voter suppression.

“This is a case of if you can’t win elections fair and square then you have to change the rules,” Weipert said.

Nearly 800 people are registered to tell Iowa lawmakers what they think of proposed election reforms on Monday night with a majority of those being registered to speak against the bill.

Alan Ostergren, the president of the Kirkwood Institute, is one of the few people to speak in support of the proposed reforms. He said the bill is not an effort at voter suppression because there’s still time for people to fill out their ballots in advance of election day.

“It will bring the time periods on which people can vote by absentee ballot into the mainstream for states in that time period,” Ostergren said.

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