Court Battles

Iowa Supreme Court upholds new law that could invalidate thousands of ballot requests

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The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a Republican-backed law barring auditors from fixing errors in absentee ballot applications on behalf of voters.

In the 4-3 ruling, the court barred county auditors from correcting incomplete applications based on state voter databases, according to The Associated Press. While auditors were permitted to make the changes before the new law, they will now be required to send them back to applicants to correct.

“We are not persuaded the statute imposes a significant burden on absentee voters. It is not a direct burden on voting itself,” the four justices wrote. They wrote that only about 13,000 absentee ballot requests out of over 842,000 had not been fulfilled as of Friday.

In their dissent, the minority wrote that the law would “likely cause thousands of voters to not receive their ballot in time to use it.”

Justice Dana Oxley, one of the dissenters, wrote that thousands more absentee ballot requests could be submitted by Saturday’s deadline. Noting that there is no meaningful documented voter fraud in relation to absentee ballots, she said the law created an unconstitutional “significant burden,” according to the AP.

“The majority’s position rests on the calm before the storm,” Oxley wrote. More than 600,000 Iowans have returned an absentee ballot by mail or in person as of Wednesday.

“To read the majority opinion, one might forget we’re even in the midst of a historic global pandemic,” she added, according to an Iowa CBS affiliate. “The majority dismisses the record evidence not only about the pandemic and its effects on county auditors’ ability to keep up with record-breaking requests for absentee ballot…it also dismisses the record evidence about the significant number of ballot requests county auditors will receive with missing or incorrect information.”


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