Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls on Monday updated national voting rights advocates on the state’s recent implementation of the newly passed restrictive elections law. On his mind yesterday: Republicans’ actions that have led to many Iowans losing their active voter registration status.
“We learned just over this weekend, because of SF413, nearly 300,000 Iowans who did not vote in the 2020 election … were moved to an inactive voter status—the very first step to being purged from the voter rolls. That’s a direct result of SF413,” Wahls said during the town hall.
“We had this congressional race that was just decided by 6 votes and Republicans have now moved to strike more than almost 300,000 Iowans from the voter rolls. It’s a really concerning development and something that we fear is going to have really big consequences down the line.”
The Iowa Democrat joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Georgia House Member Kim Alexander in a town hall to discuss the harmful voter suppression legislation coming out of their swing states.
Signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds last month, Iowa’s restrictive voting law mandates the Iowa secretary of state move any voter who did not participate in the most recent general election to an inactive status. Previous law stated that a voter wouldn’t be moved to an inactive status until they missed two consecutive general elections.
Wahls noted that the inactivated voters include “hundreds of 17 year-olds who registered knowing they wouldn’t be able to vote in the 2020 but wanted to be on the rolls going forward.”
The bill also 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. Iowa has been identified by Democrats nationwide as one of the states most aggressively targeting voting rights following the highly contested 2020 general election.
“We certainly saw the impact of every single ballot and the importance of each one being counted, and Republicans wasted no time after the 2020 election to take an axe to Iowa’s voting rights law,” said Wahls.
“This legislation was brought forward, it was an extension of the big lie that was told by President Trump and his henchmen.”
Georgia Republicans passed and signed into law a similarly restrictive, 98-page voter suppression omnibus bill which was last month signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. Georgia Democratic Rep. Alexander said that the bill may encourage voters to vote, however, instead of restricting them.
“I think more people are going to be interested in going out to vote. Right now, if we had the election tomorrow, I think we’d still see the numbers because people are so outraged about this bill,” she said.
Wahls agreed that Iowans might become energized to vote in spite of recent restrictive legislation, but highlighted his party’s efforts to continue curbing harmful legislation.
“I certainly share Rep. Alexander’s optimism, and you’re going to see a lot of folks be energized by these changes and we’ll try twice as hard to break down the barriers that are being put in place,” he said.
“I think they will fail for the same reasons that a border wall failed. If you build a ten-foot wall, we’re going to bring an eleven-foot ladder. And I think that is exactly the energy that people are going to bring to this new challenge. That being said, we still oppose these laws, we should be making it easy, safe, accessible to vote. Just because we’re willing to run through that wall doesn’t mean that we should have to.”
by Isabella Murray
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