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Chuck Grassley backs proposed changes to Iowa’s election laws

By Tom Barton, Quad-City Times

States should take a closer look at their election laws to protect against fraud in mail-in voting, Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday.

Grassley was asked during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters about an Iowa bill that would shorten early voting, close polls earlier on Election Day and establish stricter standards for absentee ballots, among many other provisions.

“In the 50 states, or at least in some of the 50 states, I think state legislatures ought to be working on laws that will enhance the protection for mail-in ballots the same as what we have protection for voting in person,” Grassley told reporters Wednesday. “In other words, the person that casts the ballot is the person that asks for it and is properly registered and properly identified and somebody else isn’t voting the ballot.”

Grassley said “a lot of other changes” should also be made to state election procedures, including “making sure any ballot that is counted is received on or before Election Day,” which could potentially impact overseas ballots from service members.

Currently, Iowa law allows absentee ballots postmarked the day before the election to be counted as long as they are received by noon the Monday following the election.

“There’s probably half a dozen other things that I could mention — they’re not right in my head right now — that states ought to do to make sure the people have great confidence in our elections,” Grassley said.

The bill passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with Republicans in favor, and was scheduled for debate Wednesday in the Iowa House.

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Majority Republicans defended the bill as an effort to improve and streamline Iowa’s voting process. Democrats and county auditors argue the changes will make it harder for Iowans to vote and suppress turnout among voters who use early or absentee voting, including the elderly and those with disabilities. Democrats have traditionally outpaced Republicans in early and absentee voting.

Opponents of the bill, too, argue GOP lawmakers are being driven by debunked conspiracy theories of rampant voter fraud in the 2020 election pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, who recently announced he’s running for Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat, has given credence to claims of election irregularities and made election reforms a focal point of his campaign.

Judges and election officials across the country from both major parties, including Trump appointees, have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. State and federal judges dismissed more than 50 lawsuits presented by Trump and his allies, and U.S. election security officials have said the election was “the most secure in American history.”

Grassley declined to comment on Carlin’s campaign and said his decision on whether he will seek another term in 2022 is months off. He said he plans to make a decision sometime this fall.

Grassley, 87, would be 95 at the end of what would be his eighth term.

“I’m working hard, and sometimes … my age comes up,” Grassley told reporters. “And this morning I got up at 4 o’clock like I do six times a week and jog two miles. And, if I can do that every day, I hope nobody has any questions about my ability to conduct a campaign. It will be up to voters to decide whether or not I should be re-elected.”

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