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Iowa laws about late-arriving absentee ballots could change--along with other election rules

Posted: Sun, Apr 7, 2019 3:36 PM

Legislation which would change regulations pertaining to elections in Iowa is still alive in the Iowa Legislature, although House File 692 now includes a number of State Senate amendments and changes.

The bill was introduced in the wake of the Iowa House District 55 election in Winneshiek, Clayton and Fayette Counties last November.  Republican Michael Bergan defeated Democrat Kayla Koether by 9 votes, but 29 absentee ballots cast in Winneshiek County were not counted because the county did not use bar coding technology that would show when the ballots were mailed.

House File 692 would require counties to use the technology.  "The bill provides that a mailed absentee ballot that arrives after the polls close on election day shall only be counted after it is verified that the ballot entered the federal mail system by the day before election day. If the postmark or postal service barcode indicates that the ballot entered the federal mail system by the day before election day, the ballot shall be included for canvass by the absentee and special voters precinct board," reads the legislation.

State senators have approved numerous amendments to the bill, however, including shortening the number of hours polling places are open on Election Day.  Senators approved those amendments and sent the bill back to the Iowa House before Friday's second "Funnel Day," meaning the bill is still alive for possible passage.