SUNDAY TALK: Guth on Absentee Ballots and the Kanawha Visit

As the summer of 2020 progresses, many things are happening in the world that could affect elections this fall. With all of the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and rioting in urban areas, it is important we make elections both easy and secure. A few county auditors were planning on sending out absentee ballot request forms, but most were not. Some of the counties were going to send out request forms with an individual’s voter I.D. number already entered. This would allow anyone who got hold of the request form to be able to fill it out and get a ballot, even if they were not the person it was intended.

The Iowa Secretary of State this past week brought forth a proposal for the state to mail out requests for absentee ballots to every voter in Iowa and to forbid anyone from sending out requests with a voter’s confidential ID PIN included. The voter must fill in his driver’s license number or voter ID number in order to receive an absentee ballot in the mail. This will greatly increase the integrity of the absentee ballot process. The Legislative Council, which acts for the legislature when we are not in session, approved this proposal Friday. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said “We want as many people as possible to vote. We want this election to be as accessible as possible, we need it to be predictable for campaigns, we need it to be uniform across the state so Iowans in every county are treated the same, and we need it to be as secure as possible.”

So, late this summer every voter in Iowa will receive an absentee ballot request in the mail from the state. Some will also get a request form from their county and various candidates. If any of those request forms have a voter PIN number included, please contact the Secretary of State or me so we can stop the possibility of fraud in our general election. If you feel safe, I would encourage you to vote in person on Nov. 3 as that is the best way to ensure the integrity of your vote.

An issue related to the elections and public health is poll watchers. Poll watchers are those people who check you in on voting day and make sure everything is done right. In the past, many of those people were senior citizens who had the time to invest a day serving their community. With the pandemic, many of those who served as poll watchers in the past are in the most vulnerable categories and should probably stay out of contact with the public. Let me encourage you to consider serving your local community by being a poll watcher if you are under the age of 60 and not at high risk from covid-19. If you would like to serve in this way, contact your county auditor’s office.

Last Tuesday, Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg toured Hancock County to visit Grounded in Clarion and Priority Electric in Kanawha. On Wednesday, the Governor was in Algona at the Test Iowa Clinic. I was able to join the Governor in Kanawha. It was good to hear her praise the efforts of Mathieu LeMay as he settles in Iowa, having come from Houston, Texas to open his electrician’s business. I am excited to have the LeMays in Iowa. I am pleased that the change to our licensing laws last session made it easier for qualified professionals, such as Mathieu, to get their license in Iowa.  Mr. LeMay’s comment that he had much better internet in Kanawha than he had in Houston was encouraging, too. Indeed Iowa is open for business!

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