Iowans would lose 11 days of early voting under proposed Senate amendments to House File 516, the voter ID bill passed by the House two weeks ago.
The comprehensive amendment 3229 offered by Republican Senator Roby Smith would push the first day of early voting to 29 days before the election, rather than the present 40. The shorter early voting window had been included in an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ken Rizer, but he withdrew the amendment before House debate.
In Johnson County, we saw 2728 in-person early voters during the seven business days that would be eliminated under the Smith amendment.
Smith's amendment includes seven other main provisions that I'll look at while I'm home for lunch here (my exact work schedule seems to be of great interest).
- First time voters who had registered by mail would have to show additional proof of address before casting their first ballot.
- The Secretary of State's office would be able to review county records to assure compliance.
Gee, I wonder where they'll look first.
- Increases number of absentee board observers/challengers by parties from 1 per party to 5.
Your Mileage May Vary:
- Would require auditors to rotate Democrats and Republicans in first position on the ballot by precinct.
At present, ballot order in partisan election is one of the very, very few things that are left to the auditor's discretion. (Translation: the auditor's party almost always goes first.)
What's interesting is that this amendment references a code section that specifies the two largest parties. Even though the Libertarians gained full party status in 2016 based on Gary Johnson's vote totals, under this code section they're still less than fully equal. Just the Democrats and Republicans rotate at the top.
- Birth date required on voter eligibility slips
- Some general election filing deadlines moved five to eight days later
- Young people just under 18 would be able to vote in the June primary, if they turn 18 by the general election date. This would make primaries consistent with the caucuses.
Caucus in February: gets to "vote."This small expansion is a good thing, and will be much valued by the extremely small number of young voters who will use it. Though it hardly makes up for the rest of the bill.
Special election in March: can't vote.
Primary in June: gets to vote.
Special election in September: can't vote.
General election: gets to vote.
UPDATE: One more item that struck me as too trivial to mention. Party affiliation would no longer be allowed to appear on ballot materials except for the primary. A few labels and forms include party, simply because it's required for the primary. That struck me as a minor technical provision, as I've only had a handful of grumbles about it in 20 years. But to Smith, it was a Big Deal and Unacceptable. So I mention it now.