116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It almost feels like a broken record, doesn't it? Another year, another Republican bill pushing through the Iowa Legislature, supposedly in the name of election integrity.
This time around, the Republicans were successful in passing Senate File 413, and last week Gov. Kim Reynolds signed it into law.
So what did Republican lawmakers do this time around to help ensure we have 'election integrity” in Iowa? They decided to suppress voters' rights with the focus on making the process more difficult.
They are achieving this by reducing the hours that people can vote on Election Day, cutting back the time period Iowans will have to vote early and shortening the time frame in which people can request absentee ballots. That's not to mention numerous restrictions placed on county auditors.
These provisions impose burdens on a large number of Iowa voters, while doing nothing to make elections more secure. Considering this, it is glaringly obvious that the bill was not created to ensure integrity in our election system, but to ensure job security for the power-hungry GOP.
Want more proof that this is nothing more than a grab to help Republicans maintain power?
Included in this election bill are provisions that are blatantly designed to limit choices voters have on the ballot. This includes a dramatic increase in signatures required for potential third-party and independent candidates, and doubles the number of delegates required for third parties to have at a binding convention
Also included in the law is the addition of county signature disbursement provisions, requiring potential candidates to obtain a certain number of signatures in so many counties depending on the office. It's worth noting that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down county disbursement requirements as they create disproportional representation for specific counties (Moore v. Ogilvie, 1969), so there is precedent for a potential lawsuit.
So, how exactly does putting up hurdles and moving the political goal posts to make it harder for potential third-party and independent candidates to be included on the ballot help ensure election integrity? It doesn't.
The Republicans are clearly running scared. They see how diverse Iowa's population is becoming, and they realize that more people are getting active on the political scene. They see people becoming disenchanted with their lies and deception, with nearly 13,000 active registered voters leaving the party since December. They are seeing races become tighter each year as more Iowans are gaining interest in having other options on the ballot.
They see all of this, and rather than looking internally at how they can improve, they shred the Constitution. They turn their nose up at Iowa's state motto: Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain. They place barriers that hinder voter rights and voter choice, which gives a black eye to the democratic process that Iowans have enjoyed for 175 years.
So no, this bill was not about election integrity. This was simply another desperate act made by Republicans to save their political careers and maintain power. But that's what we've come to expect from the Iowa GOP, isn't it?
Mike Conner is Libertarian Party of Iowa chairman.