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Iowa Supreme Court Reinstates Shorter Early Voting Period, Blocks Four Other Portions of Voter ID Law

Iowa Supreme Court Building (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed part of a lower court ruling that may affect how you vote this fall.

The League of United Latin American Citizens is suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to block portions of the voter ID bill he helped to pass.  The lawsuit claims the law unjustly makes it harder to cast a vote in Iowa.  Last month a Polk County judge issued an injunction blocking portions of the law immediately while the lawsuit continues to move through the court.

Secretary of State Pate appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court asking them to lift the injunction.  Arguments were heard yesterday.  Today the court issued a ruling, tossing out one piece of the injunction but keeping others in place.

The key piece of the ruling involves the length of the early voting period in Iowa.  Previously, Iowa law allowed voters to cast ballots 40 days before election day.  The voter ID law lowered that early voting period to 29 days.  The lower court re-instated the 40 day period but the Supreme Court ruled the 29 day voting period is legal.   Early voting in Iowa will now be October 8th-November 5th.

The Supreme Court upheld four other provisions that were blocked by the injunction:

  • Election workers can’t reject ballots if signatures do not match those on file
  • Ballot applications cannot require a voter verification number
  • The language: “An absentee ballot cannot be issued until ID number is provided” on ballot applications
  • The Secretary of State can’t issue materials that say ID must be shown in 2018 (due to soft launch of new law)

Secretary of State Paul Pate issued the following statement after the court’s ruling

“I want to thank the Iowa Supreme Court for their expedited ruling. Voters benefit from having clarity in how the election laws will be applied for the November general election. While I am disappointed the Court set aside only part of the injunction, I look forward to a full hearing on the merits of the case at some point in the future.

“It is important for voters to remember that for elections held in 2018, pre-registered voters are required to provide an approved form of identification or sign an oath of identification before receiving and casting a ballot at the polls on Election Day. We will continue to work with and follow the guidance of the Attorney General’s Office in messages to voters and training for county auditors and poll workers.”

The lawsuit is still being contested in the lower courts.  Litigation likely won’t conclude until after the 2018 elections.