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GOP-backed Iowa bill aimed at restricting voting access heads to governor’s desk

An Iowa bill aimed at limiting voting and making it harder for voters to return absentee ballots is headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk this week after passing both Republican-controlled chambers of the state legislature.

The bill, introduced by a Republican state senator, specifically would reduce the number of early voting days from 29 days to 20 days. It would also close polling places an hour earlier on Election Day (at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.).

The bill also places new restrictions on absentee voting including banning officials from sending applications without a voter first requesting one and requiring ballots be received by the county before polls close on Election Day.

The Republican-controlled House passed the measure on Wednesday night in a party line vote of 57-37. That vote came a day after the GOP-controlled Iowa Senate, where the legislation was introduced, also passed the bill on a party line vote.

The bill now heads to the desk of Reynolds, a Republican.

Democrats in the state House have slammed the measure, noting it creates barriers to voting that would affect the democratic process.

The bill is part of a larger effort by GOP legislators across the country — including the battleground states of Georgia and Arizona — to roll back voting access in the wake of the 2020 election. The November election saw record numbers of early and mail-in voters, triggering baseless claims of voter fraud from then-President Donald Trump and some of his fellow Republicans and eventually leading to the deadly insurrection on January 6.

“Iowans deserve an election that they can trust. One that makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat. That is exactly what they’ll get with this legislation,” said Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley in an email statement to CNN on Thursday. “Despite the hysteria coming from the Left, Iowa will continue to see successful elections with high voter turnout and results they can trust.”

But Democrats have noted that the legislation is part of the legislative rollback in voting access being seeing across the nation.

“What I don’t see, what I can’t understand is how it is possible to look at the facts of this election and say, ‘OK, everything went great, what’s the answer here? Let’s make it harder to vote,” Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, the Democratic House Minority Whip, said as she urged her GOP colleagues to vote against the bill on Wednesday. “I am frustrated by this bill. I am wary of this bill. I am angry about this bill.

Across the country, according to an updated analysis by the liberal leaning Brennan Center for Justice, at least 253 bills have been introduced this year in 43 state legislatures with provisions that would restrict voting access — more than six times the number of bills for the same time last year.

House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Prichard noted that he believed the bill is based on the false voter fraud arguments that continue to cast doubt on the 2020 election.

“That untruth should not be a basis that turns the volume down on the people’s voice in this great state of Iowa in the United States of America. Let that voice be heard, embrace the democracy,” said Prichard.

The bill’s manager, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, repeatedly pushed back against Democrats, saying they were making “false characterizations of this bill.”

“This bill has nothing to do with fraud,” the Republican said on the floor before the vote. “This bill does not suppress one single vote.”

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