Meeting Public Comments

Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to the conduct of elections, including absentee ballots and voter list maintenance activities, making penalties applicable, and including effective date provisions.(See HF 590.)
Subcommittee members: Kaufmann-CH, Boden, Mascher, Nordman, Wolfe
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Time: 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Location: Law Library
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

Bill Kallestad [Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council]
Good afternoon Representatives, I want to thank you for your time and allowing me to comment on House Study Bill 213. My name is Bill Kallestad, I am the Public Policy Manager at the Iowa Developmental Disability Council. As advocates for people with disabilities, we currently are against the Study Bill in its current form. The council believes and advocates for civic participation and the empowerment of the voice and vote of people with Disabilities. Areas of concerns in the Bill are the narrowed timeframes for absentee voting, prohibiting an auditor from sending an absentee ballot request to voters, the increased scrutiny in handwriting just to mention a few. We would also like to see more specifics about accessibility (that could be reflected in curbside voting and ballot boxes for example). Additionally, there are also thousands of Iowans living independently or with varied support. They receive support from a broader definition of community supports mentioned in the bill. The Iowa Developmental Disability Council has seen an increase in voter turnout, we advocate for more accessible rules and laws that allow people with disabilities to exercise their civic duty. Thank you for your time, we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these concerns. Thank you!
Jane Robinette []
I urge you to oppose SSB 1199. Voting is fundamental to our system of government. This bill, among other things, places arbitrary limits on early voting, absentee voting, and the authority of county auditors to do their job for the voters. I would like to hear your justification for the changes proposed by this bill, particularly the reduced time periods for requesting an absentee ballot as well as voting and returning the absentee ballot. Allowing only 18 days for the auditor to send the ballot, the voter to receive it, consider it, vote it, and return it in time to be counted is just too short, especially given the postal delays we have been seeing. And instead of allowing friends or volunteers who know the signature and delivery requirements and who know where the county election office is, this bill would allow only the voter, the voters family member or household member or caretaker, to return the ballot. This will deter elderly voters and other voters who lack transportation or have mobility issues or have an inconvenient schedule. Under this bill, county auditors aren't allowed to send absentee ballot request forms to voters in their county. Under this bill, county auditors aren't allowed to designate satellite voting locations unless 100 voters request a certain location. Again, what is the justification for these restrictions? Why are you wanting to make voting more difficult? I urge you to reject this antivoting and antivoter bill.
Morgan Miller [Iowa State Education Association]
Iowa has a long history of fair and accessible elections. 2020 was a great example of this, our state made access to the ballot safe and easy, and we had record voter participation. Especially now in the midst of a pandemic, we should be finding ways to expand voter participation in safe and accessible ways. Unfortunately this legislation does the opposite. In particular, ISEA is against narrowing the window to request an absentee ballot from 120 days to just 70 and narrowing the early vote window to just 18 days. ISEA is also concerned with changing the definition of who can assist voters with the delivery of their absentee ballots. Iowans have long relied on friends, family, and volunteers to help deliver their ballots to the county auditors office. Making this practice a serious misdemeanor would be a drastic change from current law. We hope you consider these comments and take time to study the impact this legislation would have on Iowas voter participation.
Jane Robinette []
My previous comments refer to HSB 213, which is identical to SSB 1199.
I support efforts to improve our election integrity. Especially with the huge increase in absentee voting, we need to take steps to verify the identify of absentee voters before they receive a ballot. We also need to eliminate the ease with which ballot harvesting can occur in Iowa. Iowa is one of the few states with no limits on who can return an absentee ballot or how many they can return. When combined with weak voter ID for absentee ballots, this is a recipe for fraud (almost entirely undetected). We also need to verify US citizenship of existing and newly registering voters. (see attached file for citizenship verification)