Reynolds: Iowans are concerned about election integrity and ‘censorship’

By: - February 25, 2021 2:50 pm

The interior of the Iowa Capitol dome. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that Iowans are concerned “what happened” in the 2020 elections and about “censorship” imposed by private tech companies.

Earlier this week, the Iowa House and Senate passed legislation that imposes new restrictions on voting in Iowa. Under the bill, county auditors could send out absentee ballots no more than 20 days before Election Day. They’d also be barred from sending out unsolicited request forms for absentee ballots, and would be allowed to set up no more than one drop-box for absentee ballots.

The bill also shortens the window of opportunity for early, in-person voting from 29 days to 20 days, and it bars county auditors from opening satellite voting locations unless they are petitioned to do so by at least 100 eligible electors.

At a press conference Thursday, Reynolds endorsed Iowa’s current system of voting, calling it a model for other states to follow, but then declined to say whether she favors the sweeping changes approved by lawmakers.

“I think we do it well in Iowa,” she said. “I’m proud of our system. I think we’re a role model for other states. But we should always be looking at ways we can enhance and improve. I said that, you know, way early on. But the fact of the matter is there are Americans across this state that have some concerns about what happened in this last election. And, again, I think it’s imperative that it’s not just understood, but that they feel there is integrity in the election process and they feel that it’s fair and that it’s done in an equitable manner. And so we’ll take a look at the legislation that passed and we’ll make a determination moving forward.”

Reynolds was asked how the elections bill that’s headed for her desk would improve democracy in Iowa.

“Well, I think, you know, I haven’t had a chance, we’re reviewing it right now,” she said. “So I’ll probably give you the same perspective that I give when you all ask where I weigh in on a bill. It goes through the process. I don’t weigh in unless it’s one of the bills that I am sponsoring. And then once that makes it through both chambers with the same language, it’s sent to my office. My team does a thorough review of the bill and then we sit down. Pros, cons, what it actually does. And so we’ll be in the process of doing that.”

Reynolds was also asked about legislation that would deny incentives and funding for tech companies that conservatives say are suppressing free speech by refusing to disseminate claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Without saying whether she supports such legislation, Reynolds said she understands the concerns about what she called “censorship” by tech companies.

“The bill has just been filed,” she said. “Iowans, businesses, tech companies will have an opportunity to weigh in on that bill. I do understand, with the Legislature, I do understand their frustration with … censorship on social media and just some of the issues that we’re seeing. So, I understand their frustration in trying to address this. I hope we’re able to address this at the federal level, as well.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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