(Des Moines) — Governor Kim Reynolds has given her approval to numerous changes in Iowa’s election laws.
Monday afternoon, the governor signed a bill approved in the House and Senate along party lines that would shorten Iowa’s early voting period from 29 days to 20 days and would close polls at 8 p.m. on election day instead of 9 p.m. The bill would also require that absentee ballots be inside of the county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on election day, ending the period for absentee ballots arriving by mail after the election.
State Senator Mark Costello recently voted his support for the bill in an interview with KMA News, saying it was needed because of possible irregularities in the 2020 presidential election vote elsewhere in the country.
“There were some things that happened throughout the country that maybe were flagged as potential issues,” said Costello. “There was some voter regret over voting early. It is also trying to get us in line with the national average of how many days of early voting there is.”
None of the allegations regarding voter fraud have been proven. Costello says it’s important to protect Iowa’s election system.
“I think it does add a little bit of more to the auditor’s job–makes it more complicated,” he said. ” But, voter integrity, and making Iowa’s elections more secure are clearly important.”
Reynolds said in a statement that it’s the state’s duty “to protect the integrity of every election.” Mills County Auditor Carol Robertson was among the local officials opposed to the bill. Robertson questioned the need for the changes, saying there were no reports of problems with Iowa’s elections last November.
“You know, we have done an amazing job, I believe,” said Robertson. “Obviously, we have Republicans and Democrats throughout the whole state. I think we all try to abide by the same regulations. To my knowledge, I don’t know of any fraud. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
Robertson’s biggest concern centered around provisions calling for fines and even jail time against election officials or workers for voting law infractions.
“When it comes to a part where you are actually looking at auditors, and their staff, and their election workers that, for an accidental thing, or unintentional, I guess you would say, get fined, how many people do you think are going to want to be an auditor, or work for us in the polls, when they’re worried about, ‘what if I make a mistake,'” she said.
Robertson is a former president and current district 4 representative of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors. Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn blasted the bills’s signing, saying Reynolds and Iowa Republicans “have made it more difficult for Iowans, especially seniors and those with disabilities, to be part of this process and have their voices heard.” Legal challenges against the new election laws are expected.