Editorial: Iowa voting bill is a thorn in Iowans’ sides


The ISD Editorial Board explains why a recent voting bill does nothing to increase election security and instead threatens access to a fundamental right of all Americans. 

Editorial Board

Your right to vote. It’s the cornerstone of our entire system of government, of democracy. So one would think an attempt to restrict voting access would be front-page news and face intense scrutiny. However, this appears to not be the case, as a bill like this has cruised through Iowa’s Republican-controlled Legislature and is now waiting on Gov. Reynolds’ desk.

This bill shortens many important voting windows. First, the bill reduces the early mail-in voting period by nine days. Second, it closes the absentee ballots request and early registration period by five days. As a cherry on top, it would require in-person voting locations to close at 8 p.m. rather than the current 9 p.m.

What is not in the bill is any new certification or identification confirmation steps. In fact, Iowa already has a voter ID law, which faced its own round of criticism back in 2017. 

When asked why Republicans would push such a bill through, party members provided differing answers. Gov. Reynolds admits there was no major voter fraud found in the state but says the bill is meant to restore confidence in Iowans who may believe otherwise. Iowa Sen. Jim Carlin paints another picture, claiming that most in the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen

This claim has been repeatedly disproven despite receiving support from powerful Republicans. Last November the Department of Homeland Security stated that the election had been the most secure election ever. Later in December, the former president’s own attorney general said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

The bill is more likely targeting the Democratic vote, which came overwhelmingly by mail this last election due to the pandemic. This partisan voting battle is being waged at different levels. Having recently lost the Senate, Republicans are using their advantages at the state level to introduce more than 100 bills that would restrict voting. In Congress, Democrats are pushing a voting bill that would overhaul the entire election system, taking much of the flexibility out of the state’s hands.

The notion that Republicans cannot succeed with record turnout and mail-in voting does not hold up. Iowa saw record levels of overall and mail-in turnout this last election cycle. Republicans defended their incumbent senator and even flipped two congressional seats red. 

One can say that anything the state can do to secure its elections should be a priority. We agree with the idea of secure elections. If our election system is compromised, the foundations that support American values and protections will begin to fail. However, this bill does not increase security. It only makes it more difficult to get your vote into a ballot box, plain and simple. Another thorn in the side of Iowans is not what anyone needs at the moment. 

For these reasons, it’s clear the bill should die on the governor’s desk. Voting restrictions should be taken very seriously and they need to be supported by facts and genuine threats to our democracy. A popular but repeatedly disproven rumor is not a sufficient reason to make it harder for Iowans to vote.