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Governor approves changes in Iowa election law, legal challenge expected

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that shortens Iowa’s early voting period by nine days. A lawsuit is likely to try to block the changes outlined in the new law.

The changes were approved by Republicans in the legislature and go into effect immediately. In a written statement, the governor said the new law gives Iowans “even greater confidence to cast their ballots.” Absentee ballots will now have to be in a county auditors’ offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day and 8 p.m. is the new closing time for voting at polling places on Election Day for statewide and federal elections. It had been an hour later.

County auditors lose some discretion in making local decisions. They can no longer set up satellite early voting sites on their own, plus county auditors could be charged with a felony for failing to follow the Secretary of State’s rules for the administration of election. That move comes after three county auditors sent absentee ballot request forms to voters this past fall that included voter information. The Secretary of State had ordered all forms to be blank.

Marc Elias, an attorney who successfully argued against dozens of the 2020 election law challenges filed by Republicans, said this is “the first major (voter) suppression law since the 2020 election.” Elias said Iowa’s changes “are unnecessary” and Republicans should expect litigation here.

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