DES MOINES — As COVID-19 continues to affect communities across Iowa, Democratic leaders are working to ensure that all Iowans can safely exercise their right to vote in November. Iowans overwhelmingly voted by mail in the record-setting June primary and set an example for safe election procedures during a global pandemic. In response, Republicans in the state legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds passed a bill to suppress Iowans’ right to vote.
While Republicans are trying to create even more barriers to voting in the midst of a global pandemic, Democrats are focused on expanding vote-by-mail and safe election measures.
As requests for absentee ballots begin, here’s a look about what Iowans are saying about safely voting by mail and the GOP’s attempts to dismantle it:
Des Moines Register Editorial Board: Message from GOP lawmakers to Iowans: We don’t want you voting
“Republican state lawmakers are on a mission: Make it as difficult as possible for Iowans to vote.
“Their latest effort to fulfill this mission came in the form of a last-minute 30-page amendment to a previously simple, noncontroversial bill. Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, said the new legislation, passed along party lines after a contentious late-night debate, is intended to support “safe, secure and reliable elections.”
“Iowa already has safe, secure and reliable elections. The goal is voter suppression.”
N’West Iowa Review Editorial Board: Suppressing the vote
“Why is having more people vote a bad thing?
“Welcome to the twisted world of electoral politics as some politicians once again try to suppress voting, even after a smooth primary conducted primarily through mail voting that set a record for voter participation.
“The June 2 Iowa primary was a great success despite the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the efforts of Iowa secretary of state Paul Pate, county auditors and election workers.
“A record 520,000 ballots were cast, shattering the old record of 450,000 set in 1994. Good news, right? Outright amazing, actually, with the threat of COVID-19 making voters wary about visiting courthouses and other polling places.”
Iowa Starting Line: Republicans Screwed Themselves By Attacking Iowa Absentee Ballot Efforts
“Their latest scheme to make it more difficult to vote in Iowa is about to blow up in their faces in spectacular fashion, and they have no one but themselves to blame for it. […]
“In the future, Iowa Republican legislators would be wise to question the big ideas coming from Sen. Smith and anyone else who had a major hand in passing this short-sighted, vindictive legislation. That is, if they’re still in power after the 2020 election.”
President of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors Roxanna Moritz: “County auditors, as local commissioners of elections, are baffled by this. The 2020 primary was very successful, based on a variety of metrics, largely due to the steps taken by the secretary. Counties experienced record or near-record turnout. Election Day went very smoothly. Results were rapidly available. Why would the state want to cripple the process that led to such success?”
Marion, IA Voter: “This bill [signed by Governor Kim Reynolds] is in lock step with Trump’s position that in effect opposes maximizing Americans’ participation in our right to vote, especially in a time of serious virus concerns. It seems to me that Trump and Reynolds saw a voting participation solution in place and decided to put barriers and gaps in the way of Americans.”
State Senator Pam Jochum: “What are you afraid of? That more people in this state might engage in a constitutional right to cast a vote?”
O’Brien County Auditor Barb Rohwer: “There has been no problem with people casting ballots intended for other people. … I really don’t know why they decided to do this.”
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller: “The law is fixing something that isn’t broken.”
KHQA: “That primary shattered turn out records. 80% of voters sending their ballots by mail, a process made easier by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate sending mail-in ballot request forms to every registered voter in an effort to encourage absentee voting because of pandemic concerns at the polls.”