116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINTON — Congressional Republicans promoting confidence in elections made stops Monday in Iowa to highlight the extensive measures local officials take safeguarding voting — while warning that Democratic election reforms being considered in Congress would undermine states’ ability to run elections and respond to voters’ needs.
“Our system in Iowa clearly works,” 1st District U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson said after Benton County Auditor Hayley Rippel and her staff walked Hinson and Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis through their election processes. Rippel and Deputy Auditor Gina Edler highlighted their 40-step procedure to ensure accuracy in the upcoming city and school board elections.
“There were some questions about the election last year in 2020, not necessarily in Iowa, but across the country,” Hinson said. “So it's my job as the elected official here in this state to make sure that my constituents know that their process is good and solid.”
The Republican message was the same in Davenport, where Davis joined 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks for a discussion with Iowa state Republican Sens. Roby Smith of Davenport and Chris Cournoyer of LeClaire, lawyer Alan Ostergren and University of Iowa law professor Derek Muller.
“In Iowa, we know the system worked,” Miller-Meeks said. “We know that people can have confidence and trust in our system because of the election law changes that we made.” They include Iowa’s 2017 voter ID law and “codifying identification process on the absentee ballot request.”
“All of those things have led us to the point where we had the largest turnout in the past election cycle that we’ve had,” Miller-Meeks said. “I think when you look at what happens where there is voter ID and people can trust the system, more people vote, and that includes in low-income and minority areas as well.”
Davis, a Des Moines native who represents a House district in central and southwestern Illinois, launched the Faith in Election Project. In order to promote voter confidence, Davis said, “We must ensure that states maintain the primary authority over our nation’s elections,” which “should be run by those closest to the people; not unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”
“Our system works,” Davis said. “It keeps (elections) safer. It keeps them decentralized. And in the case of Iowa and others, it keeps them with a system of checks and balances that I think, once educated, anyone who doesn’t have faith in the American election system will have a lot more.”
But it might be easier for Americans to have faith in elections if Hinson, Miller-Meeks and Davis would call out the extremists “in their party who spread conspiracies that led to the deadly Jan. 6th insurrection,” Elena Kuhn of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said.
“Instead, they’ve fallen in line with their out-of-touch party leaders to downplay the violent assault on our democracy and the dangerous and baseless rhetoric casting doubt on the 2020 election results that stoked it,” she said.
Asked about the irony of Republicans telling Americans to have faith in state elections after months of lending credence to false claims by former President Donald Trump and his supporters of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Davis contended “there is fraud in every election.” He also asserted that “misinformation” and messaging from Democrats of restrictive voting changes in Republican-controlled states — including Iowa — leading to voter suppression “is what’s leading to a lack of faith our election system.”
Both he and Miller-Meeks pushed back on claims that changes made to Iowa elections law will make it harder for certain voters to cast a ballot.
Smith was a lead author and floor manager for changes to Iowa elections laws enacted earlier this year by the GOP-controlled Legislature. The new law shortens Iowa's early voting period, restricts the ability of county auditors to establish satellite in-person early voting sites and forbids auditors from mailing out absentee ballot request forms, among other provisions.
“We still have over three weeks of early voting,” Miller-Meeks said. “So when you have almost a month of time to vote … it seems like there is adequate time for people to be able to vote, whether you’re able to go to the poll and vote in person on the day of the election, or able to vote by mail,” Miller-Meeks said.
No local elections officials participated in the Davenport roundtable.
Asked about their opposition to congressional Democrats’ HR 1, the For the People Act, and HR 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Davis and Hinson noted the Constitution delegates conducting elections to states.
“As a former state representative myself, I feel very strongly in protecting states’ rights for elections,” said Hinson, who served two terms in the Iowa House. “We will keep working to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat by pushing back on Democrats’ plans to federalize our election process.”
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