Back Print

Iowa House and Iowa Senate are considering opposing bills to handle absentee ballots

Posted: Thu, Mar 7, 2019 4:43 PM

The Iowa Legislature is now taking up the issues raised by the disputed House District 55 election in Winneshiek, Clayton and Fayette counties.

29 absentee ballots received by the Winneshiek County Auditor after Election Day were not counted because they did not meet the standards established by the Iowa Legislature—even though the US Postal Service said the ballots were mailed before the deadline.

Now the Iowa House has begun to consider a bill by Republican Representative Jon Jacobsen of Council Bluffs.  Jacobsen's bill would require all 99 counties in Iowa to use US Postal Service barcoding in order to determine whether ballots get mailed before the deadline.  Jacobsen says all counties should handle ballots in the same manner.

But a different measure in the Iowa Senate would support an approach endorsed by the Iowa State Association of County Auditors.  The Iowa Senate bill uses this so-called "drop dead" provision that any ballot that was not received by the end of casting ballots on Election Day would not be counted.  The approach creates a simplified rule, but some lawmakers have complained that it would, in effect, reduce the number of days of balloting and make it more difficult for some people to vote.

If the Iowa House and Iowa Senate pass different bills, the issue would have to be resolved by a Conference Committee made up of both House and Senate members.