A top Democratic elections lawyer filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning against Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Attorney General Tom Miller, challenging the voter suppression bill signed into law Monday afternoon.
The rapid response case, filed by voting rights attorney Marc Elias and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, comes after the fast-tracked law signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds yesterday made Iowa one of the first states to restrict voting access following the 2020 election.
The suit claims that the GOP bill, which reduces Iowa’s early voting period, imposes criminal charges on county auditors who break state law and shortens election day poll hours by an hour, among other measures, violates the Iowa Constitution by creating an “undue burden” on voting rights.
?BREAKING: On behalf of the @LULAC of Iowa, we have filed a lawsuit challenging Iowa's new voter suppression law. The voting restrictions in this law create an undue burden on the fundamental right to vote in violation of the Iowa Constitution. https://t.co/BAOXKYRLI1
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) March 9, 2021
“Last year, voter turnout broke records in Iowa. Over 1.7 million Iowans—more than 75% of all registered voters—participated in the 2020 general election,” the suit states.
“These historic levels of direct engagement in the democratic process should be lauded. Yet one of the Iowa Legislature’s top post-election priorities was to pass an omnibus election bill that restricts nearly every form of voting that Iowans—particularly minority voters—relied on in 2020.”
After the law was signed by Reynolds on Monday, Elias hinted that legal action would be pursued against the state, tweeting “This shameful law will not go unchallenged in court.”
“This is the biggest threat to democracy right now. While Iowa is the first state to pass such a law, it won’t be the last. We must all stay vigilant, speak out, and take action,” he added.
Iowa today enacted a law that does nothing other than disenfranchise voters. This shameful law will not go unchallenged in court. https://t.co/SV6TctQGjD
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) March 8, 2021
The lawsuit requests an order declaring that a number of the law’s provisions violate the state’s Constitution, stopping the enforcement of those provisions.
The law shortens early voting to 20 days from 29 days, states that mail-in ballots must be received by the time polls close Election Day even if they were mailed on time, limits drop box locations, restricts election officials from mailing absentee request forms unless voters request it, and threatens fines of up to $10,000 for poll workers who do not comply with the measures.
It passed along party lines during every stage of its advancement, inciting lengthy lawmaker debates and public comments over former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 race. Iowa Republicans passed the legislation on account of “election integrity.”
“It’s our duty and responsibility to protect the integrity of every election,” Reynolds said in a statement upon the signing the law. “This legislation strengthens uniformity by providing Iowa’s election officials with consistent parameters for Election Day, absentee voting, database maintenance, as well as a clear appeals process for local county auditors. All of these additional steps promote more transparency and accountability, giving Iowans even greater confidence to cast their ballot.”
Iowa joins a number of GOP-led states who have questioned election integrity in the 2020 race despite no evidence of significant voter fraud during the contest. The former president officially lost all of his post-election legal battles on Monday.
by Isabella Murray
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