Election law changes pass Iowa House on 62-35 vote

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to ban drop boxes at county auditors’ offices for absentee ballots and to require that absentee ballots be in election offices the day before an election. For elections held in Iowa the past three years, absentee ballots were counted if the ballot was received by county auditors by the time polls closed.

Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, says anyone can vote in the time frame outlined in the bill.  “504 hours — that is how much time we have to vote here in Iowa,” Kaufmann said.

House Democrats voted against the bill, which makes other changes, like requiring new absentee ballot envelopes. Representative Amy Nielsen is a Democrat from North Liberty.  “We’re adding even more hoops for our voters to jump through, just for them to exercise their constitutional right to a vote,” Nielsen says.

Representative Austin Baeth, a Democrat from Des Moines, suggests the changes are fueled by paranoia. “I don’t know when this body is going to be satisfied that there is no organized conspiracy to tamper in our elections,” Baeth says.

Representative Kaufmann, who has managed previous bills making election law changes, responded.  “That extra envelope makes sure that ballot has not been tampered with,” Kaufmann says. “No one has said there’s a vast conspiracy here. I certainly have not.”

The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate for consideration.