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State Senate Republicans approve bill limiting early voting

The Iowa House held a public comment hearing Monday, where more than 1,000 Iowans voiced their opposition of the bill.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republicans in the Iowa Senate approved a bill sharply limiting early voting, with some arguing that changes were needed to ensure the integrity of Iowa’s election despite no evidence of fraud.

Senate File 413 was approved Tuesday on a vote of 30-18 with only Republican support. 

It would reduce the mail and in-person early voting period, tightly regulate how absentee ballots can be returned and require polls in all elections to close at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than currently for general elections. 

The House, also controlled by Republicans, is expected to approve the bill as soon as Wednesday. If so, it will go to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has indicated her support.

A bill in the Iowa House is also making its way to Reynolds' desk. Monday night, Iowans voiced their concerns about House File 590. This bill is up for debate on Wednesday.

This bill would limit early voting to 18 days, scale back absentee ballot collections and criminally penalize county auditors who don't follow state law.

More than 1,000 Iowans commented online and in-person in opposition to the bill.  

The bill would also ban anyone other than the individual voter from returning an absentee ballot. County auditors would not be able to send absentee ballot request forms to eligible voters.

"This is concerning because early voting, absentee ballots, and satellite voting make it easier for people to vote. There is absolutely no evidence that they encourage any fraud," ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer said Monday. "Meanwhile, study after study does produce evidence that voter fraud is an almost non-existent problem in our country and our state."