Bill to shorten early voting period, end Election Day early in Iowa heads to governor's desk

Iowa lawmakers have sent a measure to Gov. Kim Reynolds’s (R) desk that would reduce the window to vote early and the time polls are open on Election Day.

The Republican-dominated state House passed the bill along party lines 57-37 Wednesday after the state Senate did the same Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register.

The bill would shorten the early voting period from 29 days to 20 days and close polls on Election Day at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. Reynolds has expressed support for the bill. It would also require all absentee ballots to arrive before polls close, while current law allows any ballots postmarked before Election Day to later be counted.


The measure comes despite a surge in voter turnout in the state in 2020 that largely benefited the GOP. Preliminary data from the United States Election Project showed the state had the third-highest turnout rate among eligible voters, behind only Maine and Minnesota.

Then-President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE won the state by just under 9 points, one of only a handful of states both he and President Obama won twice, and Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump faces test of power with early endorsements GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border MORE (R) won reelection by 6 points despite polling showing a razor-thin race.

Democrats in the state have called the measure voter suppression and pointed to the lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election.

"Why are we doing this in Iowa?" state Rep. Sharon Steckman (D) said, according to the newspaper. "We had no fraud. We had a record turnout. People were happy with the way they got to vote absentee — a million people. And you better believe some of those people were Republicans, because you won."

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R), who spearheaded the measure in the lower chamber, said the measure “has nothing to do with fraud,” which he said he did not believe was a major issue in the 2020 Iowa elections. The state GOP has also argued the record turnout indicates their changes to election law did not suppress the vote.

“I’ve got news for you. There were record votes in 2020 in spite of what the Republicans did, not because of what the Republicans did,” Rep. Bruce Hunter (D) said in response.