Iowa Lawmakers Block Proposal to Send Out Absentee Voting Request Forms

DES MOINES, Iowa - The status of absentee voting in this fall's election is still up in the air in Iowa.

A Democratic plan to use federal COVID-19 money to send out voting request forms has been voted down by the state's Legislative Committee.

The proposal would have allowed Secretary of State Paul Pate to send out absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter in Iowa for the November election.

Republicans shut the plan down on party lines, 13-9, saying it would be costly for taxpayers with little benefit. Democrats said Republican were blocking their plan in an effort to suppress voter turnout.

Secretary Pate mailed absentee request forms to all registered voters before the June 2nd primary, which resulted in a record turnout, including 80 percent of the vote from mail in ballots.

The Republican controlled legislature then added a requirement for Pate to get approval from the Legislative Council before taking such action. The new law requires the secretary to get the council's approval before making any changes to elections.

The Legislative Council Wednesday did unanimously vote to give Iowans living overseas the option of returning ballots electronically for the July 7 special elections. Pate had asked for the option because the global pandemic has disrupted international mail, raising concerns that ballots could not receive and return ballots on the usual timeline.

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