Under the Golden Dome

By: 
Carrie Koelker
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

Why Iowa’s elections were successful

     With the presidential election remaining in the news for the last several days, many of you have reached out to me with questions and concerns. Now is a good time to review the important election reforms we have recently implemented in Iowa. These reforms ensure all legal votes are counted and only legal votes are counted.

     Over the last four years, Senate Republicans led on policies to provide security and protection for elections and voters in our state. The floor debates were long and occasionally heated, but I’m thankful we stood strong because these bills provided important clarity for Iowa elections.

     In 2017 they passed Voter ID, which requires voters to present identification before they cast a vote. This was a common-sense safeguard supported by a large majority of Iowans. This year, we strengthened the Voter ID law by requiring identification to vote absentee by mail or in-person. Many activities in everyday life require identification, so presenting an ID prior to voting provides a reasonable, routine level of security for Iowa elections.

     Another key reform we recently passed is requiring an audit of all 99 counties following each general election. This reform requires a precinct in each county to hand recount all ballots cast on Election Day and verify the machine tabulated results are accurate. Iowa does not utilize electronic voting, so paper ballots provide a paper trail to ensure votes can be counted and verified. In addition to the audit, we expanded the number of partisan observers from two to five from each party to oversee the absentee ballot count. This increases transparency in the process and provides necessary oversight in the counting of ballots.

     In 2019, we improved how elections are managed in Iowa, brought checks-and-balances to the county commissioners of elections, and worked to increase transparency and uniformity in our elections across all political parties and counties. This bill requires county auditors to use an intelligent mail barcode on absentee ballots to track when it enters the USPS system. This requirement eliminates confusion and mirrors current postal practices to provide an electronic postmark instead of an actual stamp.

     This year, we also passed the faithful elector pledge. This law requires presidential electors to follow the outcome of Iowa’s popular vote. If an elector does not cast a vote for the state’s popular winner, then they will be replaced by an alternate who will cast a vote mirroring the election results. By prohibiting so-called “faithless electors,” Iowans can be assured their vote for president and vice president will be cast in alignment for the winner on Election Day.

     These reforms played an important role in providing a safe and secure election this year. Voting is a right taken very seriously by many Iowans. We worked to pass these measures to ensure it would be easy to vote but hard to cheat in Iowa elections. Because of these crucial reforms, Iowans can be confident their votes were secure, counted, and the results of our elections were accurate.

     I hope this information helps everyone understand where Iowa stands. Earlier this month, my colleagues and I gathered in Des Moines to elect our leadership. I was honored to be elected by my colleagues to the Republican leadership team as an assistant majority leader along with Senator Chris Cournoyer, Senator Zach Whiting, and Senator Mark Lofgren. With Senator Jack Whitver at the helm as our Majority Leader and newly elected Senator Jake Chapman as Senate President, we will continue the positive momentum in the Iowa Senate. The Senate is scheduled to resume session Jan. 11, 2021. Together we will do great things for Iowa!

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