“It’s our duty and responsibility to protect the integrity of every election,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds after signing a bill restricting various forms of voting in Iowa earlier this year.
The bill shortens the early voting period to 20 days from 29 days, limits drop box locations, restricts election officials from mailing absentee request forms unless voters request it, and other measures that have a completely different aim than the words in the governor’s statement.
It is a Republican-backed bill and a trend they are pursuing all over the country. Georgia has garnered significant news coverage from its efforts this year to restrict voting.
The Grand Old Party is doing everything in their power to make it more difficult for people to vote, after a record 1.7 million Iowa voters participated in the last presidential election, and more than 1 million people voted absentee by voting by mail. Like in most cases, people with disabilities and people of color are the most affected when these restrictions are put into place.
There has been a great deal vocal opposition to this bill; I wanted to hear from those on the other side of voter participation.
Madeline Cano, Urbandale
“Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa GOP claim this as a victory for election integrity. Nothing in this bill improves elections. Limiting access to voting by cutting poll operation hours and shortening the early voting period has nothing to do with integrity. It is quite literally the opposite. This is just another moot point, another talking point for their next election campaign, I have yet to see any real action from politicians on either side of the isle to improve our election process or make voting accessible to all Iowans.”
Jose Alvarado, Des Moines
“We know what this law means. Unfortunately Republicans have the advantage because they have the majority in the Iowa House and the Senate — there’s nothing we can do until we have equal power. Their purpose is to limit our access to voting.”
Connie Lozano, Des Moines
“I don’t agree with this law. Reynolds is not working for Iowans; she’s working for the GOP.”
Shelby Lynn Chavez, Des Moines
“What happens when an elderly person has no immediate family, lives with no one, and doesn’t have a caretaker, but they have a neighbor who could drop off their ballot? Cutting days does not seem like a big deal, but I could see for some it would be a big deal. I also think that some people wait until last minute to get things done and this happens with voting as well.”
After losing the last presidential elections, what Republican lawmakers in Iowa and around the country are doing is voter suppression. The online definition of “voter suppression” is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient; voter suppression can be effective if a significant number of voters are intimidated or disenfranchised.
There is no evidence of widespread voting fraud in this country. After the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we would like to think that we all have the right to vote, but apparently Republican lawmakers believe that only some should. These lawmakers more concerned about having more access to guns than to more access to the ballots.
According to the research reports from the nonprofit American Progress, “communities of color, young people, and low-income Americans are disproportionately burdened by registration barriers, inflexible voting hours, and polling place closures, making it more difficult for these groups to vote. Participation gaps persist along racial, educational, and income-level differences.”
For the voters who will have a harder time casting their vote in the future, this will mean less chances for them to elect individuals who will look out for their interest.
There are other consequences that legislators and the governor might have forgotten. Businesses understand the importance of diversity for them — these laws send one message, we are not in Iowa Nice anymore.
by Claudia Thrane
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