Election law changes will affect rural voters the most

Early in 2021, the Legislative Majority (Republicans) passed sweeping changes to Iowa’s election laws after near perfect Primary and General elections in Iowa in 2020. Sixty-three of my peers are Republican county auditors and they were hopeful our Governor, a Republican, would veto the legislation. She did not.

When voters go to vote in November 2021 election, and again in the 2022 Primary and General Elections, they need to remember that the changes they are encountering that make voting inconvenient were not created by county auditors & commissioners of elections. No, these laws were created by the Legislative Majority to make voting by mail and early voting as inconvenient as possible when compared to the elections held in 2020.

Specifically, these new laws are going to affect rural voters – especially those who rely upon the USPS for access to the ballot box. If I mail an absentee ballot request form to the Linn County Auditor’s Office from anywhere in Linn County, it will arrive the next business day assuming I beat the pickup time. The same holds true for my absentee ballot affidavit envelope. How do I know this? I measured the delivery times of every Post Office in Linn County prior to the General Election. Why does in only take one business day in Linn County? Because Linn County mail is home to the Cedar Rapids USPS mail sorting station.

But what if you are in rural Iowa and it takes one business day for your mail to get to the USPS sorting center, and one or more days to return to your county auditor? Then the same occurs when you return your voted absentee ballot. If your absentee ballot is not in your county auditor’s hands by 8pm on election night, it will not be counted. The Legislative Majority’s and Governor’s decision to reduce the vote by mail window on elections does not reflect the reality of USPS logistics in rural Iowa. If you mess up any part of the vote by mail process, you will not have time for a do over. To vote, you will have to do early in-person voting or vote on Election Day – or not vote.

The USPS is an independent agency, which is not required to adhere to the laws passed by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Iowa’s Governor. In the past they have done their best to expedite official election mail, but I doubt they were consulted when Iowa’s 2021 election laws were being written. If they had been consulted, I believe they would have recommended against shortening the vote by mail window.

If you vote by mail and you later receive a letter after the election indicating your vote did not count because your county auditor did not receive your absentee ballot on time. Let me remind you that the Legislative Majority and Governor changed the law – not Iowa’s county auditors. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

2021 Election Law Changes for Iowa Voters.pdf

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