A committee in the Iowa Legislature is debating whether to count 29 mail-in ballots from Winneshiek County for Iowa House District 55, which also includes parts of Clayton and Fayette Counties. Although the Winneshiek County Auditor initially rejected the ballots because they did not have a conventional postmark, bar codes from the U.S. Postal Service showed the ballots were legally mailed before Election Day.
The language of Iowa law is unclear on whether the bar codes should be proof of timely mailing. But the intent of the law seems unmistakable: ballots mailed before the legal deadline should be counted.
Counting the 29 ballots could change the outcome of the election: Michael Bergan leads Kayla Koether by just nine votes. But a much larger issue is whether voters whose ballots may not be counted are being disenfranchised. Those 29 ballots should be counted, and the Legislature should clarify the law to avoid such questions in the future.
Larry A. Stone