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GOP-led Iowa legislature to approve election law changes this week

DES MOINES — A key Republican says GOP legislators plan to give final approval tomorrow to a bill that shortens Iowa’s early voting period and makes other election law changes.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton convened a public hearing last night and announced that the bill will be slightly adjusted, to set up a 21-day period for absentee voting.

“It is really easy to vote absentee today under current law,” Kaufmann said, “and it will be really easy to vote absentee after this bill passes and is sent to the governor’s office Wednesday night.”

Gary Leffler of West Des Moines, a Trump supporter who testified during the public hearing, urged Iowa lawmakers to go further and address allegations of election fraud in other states.

“I was at the (U.S.) Capitol on January 6. What people are concerned about is this: voter integrity,” Leffler said. “…They’re trying to figure out: How in the world did this happen?”

Janice Weiner of Iowa City, a critic of the bill, said President Biden “won freely and fairly,” just as Senator Joni Ernst did.

“The remedy for the big lie of a stolen election is not to take an ax to election laws that work exceedingly well,” Weiner said. “It’s simply to tell the truth.”

Emily Russell, a Drake University law student who was president of Wartburg College Republicans as an undergrad, testified in support the bill

“If we don’t start taking steps to increase public confidence in the integrity of our elections now, all of us will continue to live in a divided society,” she said.

Election officials from four Iowa counties drove to Des Moines to urge legislators to make major changes in the bill. Rebecca Bissell, a Republican who is the Adams County Auditor, said due to Postal Service delays, the shorter window for mail-in voting will cause problems.

“Smaller rural counties have a large elderly population who typically choose to vote absentee because of weather or health concerns,” Bissell said. “Why are we making it harder for them to vote?”

Auditors from Grundy, Woodbury and Sioux Counties also testified against the bill.

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