116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Thirteen months ago, the 2020 federal election drew America’s highest voter turnout — 66.7 percent — in more than a century. It is alleged the former President Donald Trump and some GOP die-hards attempted a coup at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, to overturn the Electoral College process and place the loser as president. Ever since that election, lawmakers from 44 states have tinkered with the election process with some positive and negative results.
Legislators from 25 states enacted 62 laws to expand voting access. These politicians were “responding to Americans’ eagerness to vote by making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Sadly, 19 states enacted 33 laws making it harder for citizens to vote: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Ten pro-democracy organizations in Iowa appear to be the first in the nation to have formed a coalition and are saying “enough is enough” regarding Iowa’s GOP trifecta-controlled House, Senate and Governor enacting anti-voter laws in the spring of 2021. They are taking their case to Iowa’s registered voters in hopes of presenting a petition of their signatures to the leaders of Iowa’s 89th General Assembly. Iowa’s new legislative session begins on Jan. 10.
The petition is requesting legislators to repeal sections SF 413 and SF 568 from the newly enacted voting law. In summary, the groups contend Iowa’s law makes voting harder, disqualifying voters easier, shortens voting time period by 31 percent, makes elections more difficult to administer and invites political party interference in elections. Registered voters can go to the League of Women Voters Iowa website to sign the petition.
The alliance maintains the net effects of Iowa’s new voting law related to section SF 413 include: shortening the time period to apply for a mail ballot, shortening the deadline to deliver mail ballots, eliminating the sending of mail ballot applications to voters who do not specifically request forms, restricting assistance to return a voter’s mail ballot, limiting the number, location or availability of mail ballot drop boxes, reducing polling place availability and limiting early voting days and hours.
Section SF 568 of Iowa’s new voting law is opposed by the consortium as it restricts assistance in returning a voter’s mail ballot and it increases barriers for voters with disabilities.
Terese Grant, President, League of Women Voters of Iowa (LWVIA), believes Iowa’s new voting law disenfranchises voters and is an attempt to disqualify voters — restricting suffrage — which is a constitutional right to vote. “Defending democracy has been our motto since our founding in 1920 and we have always supported an open and transparent government, including the right to vote,” said Grant. She continued “democracy works best when more people — not less — are involved. The petition drive to repeal sections SF 413 and SF 568 is one way in which Iowans can get involved and let their duly elected legislators know their opposition to Iowa’s newly imposed anti-voter law.”
LWVIA’s anti-voter law co-sponsors include Episcopal Diocese of Iowa; Common Good Iowa; Iowa Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Interfaith Alliance of Iowa; Iowa Shares; Des Moines Chapter, The Links, Inc.; Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Sierra Club Iowa Chapter.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both acts before the Senate will protect racial and minority voting rights, reform campaign financing and establish a commonplace voting standard in all 50 states. Urging senators to approve these acts would eliminate state legislators from 19 states playing games with citizens’ cherished right-to-vote freedom.
Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. firstname.lastname@example.org