If the Iowa GOP seeks to run government like a business, passing a voter suppression bill reflects a poor business model, Democrats said tonight during floor debate in the Iowa House.
In his opening statement before the House passed a contentious elections bill, Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann called for sweeping reform to Iowa’s election system in the name of security and integrity.
“It is my view that government should run like a business,” Kaufmann said, noting that after a successful period in the private sector “you look at what you did right, what you did wrong, and you make improvements. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here today. The ultimate voter disenfranchisement is any voter not having faith in our election system.”
House Democrats then contested the legislation, deemed some of the most aggressive voter suppression in the country, by questioning for over five hours Kaufmann and the GOP’s business sensibility, among other objections.
No other Republicans, besides Fairfield Republican Rep. Jeff Shipley, spoke on the floor before voting 57–37 Wednesday evening to pass the House bill, which is tonight headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk to be signed into law a week after its introduction. Thirty-one Republicans were not in the chamber for debate.
“Don’t go out and get roadkill and call it prime rib. This bill isn’t a business model,” said Sioux City Democrat Rep. Steve Hansen.
2020 voter turnout numbers in the state shattered past election records – over 75% of Iowans voted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The GOP-crafted legislation shortens absentee voting windows, removes registered voters by purging voting rolls, creates criminal charges for county auditors who break state law and closes polls an hour early on Election Day.
“If we’re trying to be like a business here … I agree, even after something successful, to pause and reflect on how to improve. But what I don’t see, what I can’t understand is how it’s possible to look at the facts of this election and say ‘Okay, everything went great, what’s the answer here? Let’s make it harder to vote,’” said West Des Moines Democrat Rep. Kristin Sunde.
“I am frustrated by this bill, I am weary of this bill, and I am angry about this bill. And I am disappointed that we are not listening to Iowans.”
On Monday, over a thousand Iowans signed up to speak against the House election bill while around 20 signed up in support of the bill.
Three Democrats proposed several amendments on the House floor which would roll back some of the most extreme aspects of the bills, including instating automatic voter registration, increasing felon voting rights and restoring original absentee ballot request timelines, among other measures to increase Iowan’s rights to vote.
All the amendments were shot down despite Democrats’ lengthy efforts.
“I’ve been here long enough to know that these bills will probably pass,” said Waterloo Democrat Rep. Ras Smith, “We should be courageous and stand up collectively for the truth, we should push back against the falsehoods against our election systems and stand for voter freedom.”
by Isabella Murray
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