Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst weighed in on a bill that passed in the GOP-led Iowa state Senate that would prevent Iowa’s secretary of state from sending applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate did that for the primary election earlier this month to encourage Iowans to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iowa had a record turnout.
We have surpassed the all-time turnout record for a June primary, with more than 487,000 ballots cast & more still coming in. The previous high in Iowa was 449,490 in 1994. My hats off to Iowa voters, poll workers and county auditors. Awesome job! #BeAVoter pic.twitter.com/kwC1ayV35V
— Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (@IowaSOS) June 3, 2020
“I, in light of COVID-19, don’t have a problem with what Secretary Pate did,” Ernst said on a call with Iowa reporters on Thursday. “I am very hopeful that by the fall that we can return to operations as normal.”
The Iowa State Association of County Auditors, which represents Republican and Democratic election officials, opposed the bill. Ernst, who previously served as a county auditor in Iowa, says elections are a state issue and the legislature can have those conversations, but overall Iowa’s election system does currently allow for voters to request absentee ballots.
Ernst says she wants to make sure polling places are open in the fall but any Iowa voter should be able to request an absentee ballot
Ernst, who was first elected in 2014, is on the ballot in November. Her Democratic opponent, real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, called the bill passed in the Iowa Senate “unacceptable and wrong.”
Voting by mail is safe, easy, and during this #COVID19 pandemic, more important than ever.
— Theresa Greenfield (@GreenfieldIowa) June 10, 2020
“Instead of celebrating last week’s historic turnout, Republican politicians in Iowa are trying to make it harder to vote,” Greenfield tweeted.
The bill was sent to the Iowa House, where it's expected to be changed.