Consequences For Voter Suppression Coming To An Iowa District Near You

A guest post from Zack Davis, the state director for Jason Kander’s Let America Vote organization in Iowa. Photo of a Let America Vote intern knocking doors for a state legislative candidate in West Des Moines.

On May 5th, 2017, our state — long seen as a leader in voter participation and election integrity — took a big step backward with the passage of House File 516.

Instead of lowering barriers and increasing access to the ballot for Iowans, the legislation championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate injected partisan politics into the voting process, instituting an unnecessary and confusing ID requirement and cutting the state’s early-voting period by 11 days, among other measures.

This new law was a hamfisted solution to a nonexistent problem, making voting harder for thousands of eligible Iowans, sowing confusion among local election officials and forcing new costs on the state. Republican lawmakers and now-Gov. Kim Reynolds went along with it anyway.

Now they’re going to try to use that law to create a narrower and more GOP-friendly electorate that will help them win elections.

That’s where Let America Vote comes in.

Laws like HF 516 come straight out of the Republican voter suppression playbook, in which politicians sow distrust in voting systems, introduce obstacles to voting and then create obstacles to the obstacles, so that on Election Day fewer voters can exercise their constitutional rights.

Standing up to those laws is exactly why Jason Kander founded Let America Vote last year. The fight for voting rights is fundamental in this country, and winning it is more important than ever. We’ll never make progress on the key issues facing this state and country until we ensure every eligible voter’s voice is heard on Election Day.

When politicians make it harder for people to vote, our mission is make it a whole lot harder for them to get reelected. In Iowa, that means challenging vote suppressors like Reynolds and Pate and all their enablers in the legislature — and supporting voting-rights champions to take their places.

To that end, we’ve recruited more than 50 interns, and are building a statewide network of supporters and volunteers. Starting this month, our boots-on-the-ground organization will be knocking doors across Iowa to elect candidates who respect and value voting rights.

The work Let America Vote does is not fancy or flashy: It’s old-fashioned, street-by-street, block-by-block organizing. Over the next five months, we’re going to have thousands of one-on-one conversations with Iowans on the importance of turning out in November and supporting candidates who believe in democracy and govern accordingly.

As activists in Iowa well know, that approach can make a huge difference. Last year, Let America Vote hit 194,000 doors in Virginia, winning nine of our 10 races and flipping seven legislative seats from Republican to Democrat.

We’re excited to be underway here, and ready to make a difference for pro-democracy candidates. Republicans can try to suppress their way to victory with bad laws like HF 516 —  we’re going to win by energizing and educating voters on the real, positive change they can make in their state.

And if anyone has any doubts on whether that can work, I have a list of former Virginia lawmakers with a lot of free time these days.


by Zack Davis
Iowa State Director, Let America Vote
Posted 6/12/18

4 Comments on "Consequences For Voter Suppression Coming To An Iowa District Near You"

  • I’m not sure, but have they made it more difficult to get a request for a mail in ballot? The only way offered online is to download the form, but I think there used to be an option to request one be sent to you?

    • The only way to request a ballot be mailed to you, is by written request to the auditor’s office. There has never been an option to make a request using an on-line method.

  • We must have leaders that support and encourage voting. Free speech is one of the most important values we have today and it is the main foundation of democracy. It is great to see that people are taking action towards providing Americans with the ability to vote freely and speak their mind.

  • I voted early on Saturday, October 27th, 2018 at Grant Veeder in Waterloo and the ballot box was behind the counter which was unusual to me so I waited for the clerk to put my vote in the ballot box because she was walking around with it in her hand and told me that I was done and could leave. So as I waited for her to put my ballot in the box, I told her that I was waiting for my wife who was still voting still waiting for her to put my vote in the ballot box. Now the white people who turned their votes in before me had their ballots put in the box right away and I’m sure that there was a box under the counter where she was putting the black votes in and if that isn’t suppression I don’t know what is. I still don’t know if my wife’s ballot was put in the box beause after we turned it in we left because of the dirty look we were given. We were there a little after noon and I think that this should be investigated even though I know that it won’t. I expected this in southern states but not here in Iowa where I moved to a year and a half ago from Minnesota to be near my kids and grandkids and haven’t had a problem until this. I will be persuing this situation until I get answers from whomever’s in charge. Thank you!

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