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Iowa House passes voting limits bill

Chris Helps, of Earlham, Iowa, fills out his ballot during early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 20,...
Chris Helps, of Earlham, Iowa, fills out his ballot during early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Adel, Iowa.(Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:53 AM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa House Republicans on Wednesday cast the final vote needed to send a bill to the governor that sharply limits early voting in the state, months after a general election overseen by a Republican secretary of state that saw record turnout and overwhelming victories by GOP candidates.

Like states across the country with Republican legislatures, Iowa lawmakers said early voting must be reined in because of the potential for fraud, even after a successful election in a state with no history of problems.

The House passed the bill Wednesday, a plan approved by the Senate a day earlier. Democrats who are outnumbered in both chambers were left aghast but in no position to stop the changes.

If signed into law, the bill would shorten the early voting period from 29 to 20 days. Three years ago, it was reduced from 40 to 29 days.

It also requires most mail-in ballots to be received by the time polls close on Election Day, which would be moved up to 8 p.m., rather than 9 p.m. In November, ballots had to be postmarked by Election Day and received by noon on the Monday after the election, but the bill would remove the U.S. Postal Service postmark as a way to verify when a ballot was mailed.

The bill also removes voters from active voting lists if they miss a single general election and don’t report a change of address or register to vote again. The bill also means election officials cannot send out requests for absentee ballots unless a voter asks for it.

The new law would also mean satellite voting sites could only be set up if enough voters petition for one.

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