Letters to the Editor

Iowa absentee voting needs reform

I am one of the 29 people who were disenfranchised after voting by absentee ballot in Iowa House District 55. My envelope received a USPS bar code, but did not receive a postmark. On Dec. 3, District Court Judge Scott Beattie ordered the bar codes be read and mine was confirmed to have been timely. I plead now that to ignore my valid vote is an unconstitutional act.

Inconsistencies exist in the absentee voting process in counties across Iowa. Unfortunately, Iowa law does not mandate acceptable methods for counties to determine timeliness of absentee ballots.

Iowa law does not define the term “intelligent mail bar code” that is posted on absentee ballot envelopes, nor does it require the Intelligent Mail bar code (IMb) be used to trace entry into the federal mail system. According to procedures followed by the Winneshiek County Auditor’s Office, only a valid USPS postmark is used to determine timely mailing of absentee ballots.

I believe any USPS postal marking, stamp, IMb or other bar code should be accepted as evidence of timely mailing by a constituent. Without mandating how the USPS processes absentee ballots, the Legislature can mandate any marking issued by the USPS be deemed acceptable in verifying the receipt date of the envelope into the mail system.

I was a disenfranchised voter but, through no fault of my own, I was failed by a failure-prone system. I plead to the Iowa Legislature to address this issue before the next election. Please make all votes count.

Dominique Bockman

Decorah

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