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Early Voting Time Reduced For November Election Under Iowa Supreme Court Order

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Iowa Judicial Branch Building

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate won a partial victory Friday in his quest to preserve the state’s new voter ID law, including new restrictions on absentee ballots.   

Under an order issued Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court, early voting for the November election will be allowed for 29 days before Election Day, as dictated by the new law.  

Critics of the law had hoped to prevent the state from shortening the time and instead keep the old limit of 40 days.     

A district court had approved a temporary injunction to halt enforcement of the shorter window, but the high court reversed the injunction.   

Voters benefit by having clarity in how the voting laws will be applied. -Secretary of State Paul Pate

However, under the order, other parts of the law dealing with absentee ballots will remain temporarily blocked. It's a partial victory for the League of United Latin American Citizens which filed the suit claiming the law violates the Iowa Constitution.

Under Friday’s order, for the November election, Iowans will not be required to include a verification number on absentee ballots and election officials will not be allowed to throw out ballots if signatures don’t match.   

With the issues settled for the November election, the case goes back to district court for a full hearing.

Both sides in the lawsuit claimed victory.  

“Voters benefit from having clarity in how the election laws will be applied for the November general election,” said Secretary of State Paul Pate in a statement.   “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.”

“Today’s decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to affirm the injunction of many of the state’s recently implemented barriers to voting is a major victory for voting rights and a powerful affirmation of the principle that voting should be easy and accessible for all,” LULAC president Joe Henry said in a statement.

The absentee ballot provisions are part of a wide-ranging LULAC lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law passed in 2017 which will require voters to show identification at the polls starting in 2019.