Des Moines newspaper slams Iowa GOP's ‘egregious’ voter suppression campaign in a scathing editorial

Des Moines newspaper slams Iowa GOP's ‘egregious’ voter suppression campaign in a scathing editorial
Governor Kim Reynolds speaks at the Iowa Capitol moments after becoming the state’s 43rd governor of the state. 5/24/2017 Photo by John Pemble

Iowa is among the swing states that could help determine whether President Donald Trump spends another four years in the White House or is voted out of office. It’s also a state in which the GOP has been waging a sleazy voter suppression campaign, and the Des Moines Register’s editorial board calls Iowa Republicans out for it in a blistering editorial published on June 10.

“Republican state lawmakers are on a mission: make it as difficult as possible for Iowans to vote,” the editorial warns. “Their latest effort to fulfill this mission came in the form of a last-minute 30-page amendment to a previously simple, noncontroversial bill. Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, said the new legislation — passed along party lines after a contentious late-night debate — is intended to support ‘safe, secure and reliable elections.’ It is not.”

The editorial goes on to stress that Iowa already has “safe, secure and reliable elections” — and that the obvious goal of Iowa Republicans is “voter suppression.”

“The bill, among other things, prohibits the secretary of state from mailing absentee ballot requests to Iowans without a written voter request,” the Register’s editorial explains. “In other words, it would prevent the current secretary, Republican Paul Pate, from doing exactly what he recently did. To promote voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, he sent mail-in ballot request forms for the June 2 primary to all registered voters in the state.”

In that June 2 primary, the Register notes, Iowa enjoyed “record voter turnout, largely due to absentee voting.”

“Participation by more people in our democracy is a success,” the Register stresses. “But that’s not how legislative Republicans see it. Unfortunately, that should come as no surprise by now.”

The Register’s editorial also slams Iowa Republicans for discouraging absentee voting at a time when the United States continues to be battered by the coronavirus pandemic — which, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, had killed more than 112,000 people in the U.S. and over 411,800 people worldwide as of early Wednesday morning, June 10.

Iowa Republicans, according to the Register, are doing everything they can to “ensure Iowans have to do more work to obtain an absentee ballot — a particularly egregious stunt considering we are in the midst of an infectious disease pandemic.”

“The novel coronavirus will still be circulating during the November general election,” the editorial warns. “To reduce transmission of the virus, Iowa needs to expand early and absentee voting. We will need more no-contact ballot drop-off sites. Because of increased early voting and difficulty in recruiting poll workers, counties should reduce the number of polling places, which the legislation also limits.”

The editorial concludes by noting Republicans’ obvious motivation for making it harder to Iowa residents to vote.

“Perhaps they fear being voted out of office if more people cast ballots,” the Register asserts. “Which, for engineers of voter suppression, is exactly what needs to happen.”

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