FAQ #2: What can county auditors do in 2022?

Iowa’s 2021 election law changes made voting by mail extremely inconvenient and closed the early voting window to 20 days in 2021, versus 29 days in 2020, versus 40 days in 2016.

Here are seven actions county auditors & commissioners of elections can do now to reduce the damage caused by the Republican initiated and approved law changes:

  • Print absentee ballot request forms (ABRF) in county newspaper(s) prior to the upcoming primary and general elections. My office printed ABRFs in the PennySaver, a county-wide shopper, and about 23% of the ABRFs we received for the 11/2/2021 election originated from those ABRFs printed in the PennySaver.
  • Print a summary of the new election laws in your newspapers/shoppers. My office printed a summary of election law changes in the PennySaver before the 11/2/2021 election – we tried to inform voters of the new laws. The first thing people do when they sit down to play a card game is to discuss the rules. How can we expect voters to know our election laws when the current Secretary of State (SoS) made little effort to inform voters of the new laws?
  • Offer early voting on the weekends. On two-day weekends, offer at least ten (10) hours of early voting prior to an election. On three-day weekends, offer at least twelve (12) hours of early voting prior to an election. For the 11/2/2021 election, my office offered voters an early voting option on each of the twenty (20) days of early voting. By setting a minimum number of hours to be open on the weekend, county auditors have local control on what days/hours to be open; and the minimum number of hours across the entire State would be uniform.
  • Mail out voter registration applications (VRA) to residential addresses NOT containing registered voters. By comparing a county auditor’s address book in IVoters (Iowa’s Voter Registration & Elections System) with a county’ auditor’s real estate address book, a county auditor can determine which residential addresses do not contain registered voters. The next step would be for county auditors to submit the “unregistered addresses” to a USPS authorized mail house, who can determine which addresses are occupied residences. A letter containing VRAs could be mailed to those unregistered, occupied addresses with a postage paid envelope for the completed VRAs. County auditors are also county voter registrars. We should take an active role in registering new voters using technology that should be currently available to every county auditor.
  • Lobby the Legislature to allow online absentee ballot requests. Currently, residents of Iowa can renew their drivers’ licenses online and register to vote online, assuming they have an Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) issued ID. Why not allow voters to request absentee ballots via the IDOT’s online portal? The portal is secure, and it would reduce postage costs for voters, reduce the paperwork county auditors must process, and eliminate the errors that occur when an election worker transfers handwritten data into IVoters for the purpose of issuing an absentee ballot.
  • Lobby the Legislature to base the allocation of absentee ballot drop boxes (ABDB) on population. Currently, Iowa law dictates that each county is only allowed one ABDB per county. This law is grossly unfair to every county in Iowa since no two counties have the same population. ABDBs should be apportioned based upon population – the same as legislative districts. Changing the allocation of ABDBs is especially urgent since the United States Postal System has notified the country that it is slowing down the delivery of First-Class mail, which is detrimental to shut-ins, rural voters, college students, and snowbirds.

County auditors across the State of Iowa are committed to maintaining the integrity of our elections. None the preceding actions would negatively affect the integrity of our elections. And these seven actions can be accomplished in 2022.

I urge county auditors and the influencers of county auditors to act now, to reduce the effect of the anti-vote-by-mail and anti-early-voter laws passed by the Republican majorities in the Iowa Legislature, and signed by the Republican Governor of Iowa, with NO opposition and NO comment by current Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

LET US WORK TOGETHER TO:  #MakeVotingEasyAgain | #MakeElectionsFairAgain | #RestoreLeadership | #PutVotersFirstAgain

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