Iowa Republicans successfully made it harder to vote in the state Monday when Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law sharply curtailing early and absentee voting, even closing polls earlier on Election Day. Like many states, Iowa had a record turnout for the Nov. 2020 election, handing an eight-point victory to Donald Trump in the presidential race and reelection to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst by only a slightly slimmer margin. Republicans won three of the state’s four congressional seats, losing only to an incumbent Democrat by a razor thin point-and-a-half.
Despite winning in Iowa, the state GOP, which controls both chambers of the state house and the governor’s mansion, decided to curtail voting options in the state where turnout was more than 75 percent in 2020. What was behind their thinking? Well, more than a million of the state’s 1.7 million votes were cast early this time around, setting records for early mail and in-person voting, the Des Moines Register reports. And Democrats were far more likely to vote early in one form or another—76 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans cast votes before election day, according to the Iowa secretary of state. Remember when more people voting was considered a good thing?
The state legislature approved cutting the number of early voting days by a third, down from 29 days to 20, and moving up the closing times of polls on Election Day from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition, the new law tightens absentee ballot rules, placing further restrictions on when absentee ballots may be accepted, particularly when it comes to mail-in ballots, who can request them and how they can be cast. All of this despite no substantive evidence of widespread voter fraud of any kind. But the Republicans do have outrage and when you control every aspect of state government that can be as good as evidence. The vote restricting move is part of a larger Republican effort, after months of phony allegations from Donald Trump, to use its base’s skepticism in the voting process to restrict voting access following the 2020 election.