Grassley voices support for mail-in balloting and additional nursing home funding

Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks on the Senate floor on March 20, 2020, about COVID-19. (Photo by Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley said Tuesday Iowans who choose to mail in their ballots for the November election need not worry about fraud.

In a teleconference conversation with AARP of Iowa members, Grassley expressed his continuing support for states like Iowa that encourage voters to cast their ballots by mail.

During the call, and in a floor speech earlier in the day, Grassley commended Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a fellow Republican, for his plans to mail an absentee ballot request form to every registered Iowa voter in advance of the November election.

“Iowa’s current absentee ballot system allows anyone who wants to vote by mail the option to do so,” Grassley told his colleagues in the Senate. “Just send in the request form when you receive it or download it online. But, if Iowans prefer to vote in person, that remains your decision.

“There has been a lot of misinformation claiming some massive federal intervention is needed to allow citizens to vote by mail. That isn’t true in Iowa or elsewhere. Every state has vote by mail. Sixteen states ask for a reason, such as being over 65, but most have waived or loosened this requirement.”

Grassley’s remarks came within hours of President Trump encouraging voters in Florida to vote by mail, saying that particular state’s election system is “safe and secure.”

Trump has previously said that an increase in mail-in voting would lead to  fraud.

Last week, he alleged in a tweet that the November election would be the “most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history” if universal mail-in voting — as opposed to absentee balloting — were implemented.

When asked about the president’s latest comments, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the president makes a distinction between absentee voting and what she called “mass mail-out voting” that replaces traditional, in-person voting at polling sites.

During his call with AARP members, Grassley was also asked about the fact that staffing levels and the wages of workers have a direct impact on the quality of care that’s delivered in nursing homes.

Grassley noted that Iowa could address that issue at the state level by boosting the reimbursement rate for nursing homes and the federal government would have to foot the bill for most of that increase.

“If the state of Iowa decided they wanted to pay X-number of dollars — I’ll just say $10 a day more for people staying in nursing homes — if the state of Iowa decided they wanted to do that, the federal government kind of has an open checking account for Medicaid, for anything in Medicaid in that state,” Grassley said. “So, as it applies to nursing homes, they would increase that $10 and the federal government would actually be paying $6.30 of that $10. So, we don’t decide in Washington, D.C., what each state should reimburse nursing homes, but we do pick up our share, and that’s 63 percent in Iowa.”