A judge has recently ordered an Iowa County to reject 50,000 requests for absentee ballots. The judge has agreed with Trump’s election campaign committee that the election commissioner has overstepped his authority to pre-fill the requests with voters’ personal information.
Ian Thornhill, the judge, issued a temporary injunction where he has ordered the County Auditor Joel Miller to let the voters know in writing that the forms should not have been pre-filled. Therefore, the forms cannot be processed. Instead, the voters have two options — either fill up the form manually with all the information, or they will have to vote on the election day.
This particular ruling by the judge has marked an initial victory to Trump’s challenges to absentee voting procedures in three counties of Iowa. It is expected to be more competitive in Trump’s political race against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump and Biden are both pilots of an unprecedented legal battle which involves a big number of lawsuits nationwide. This will definitely change the shape of the 2020 Presidential Election in America.
According to the Republicans, this ruling will definitely hold a “rouge auditor” accountable for his/her actions. At the same time, it would also ensure the utmost voting security, while the Democrats think that it’s a suppression of voters’ rights.
Miler said that he will abide by the order of the court, pledging to send out new blank forms to the voters the next month.
Miler had already received 140,000 absentee ballot request forms from voters in July. The forms were filled up with the personal information of voters which included the names, dates of birth, and most importantly, voter identification numbers.
According to Miller, a Democrat, his sole objective was to make everything as simple as possible for vote absentees during the on-going pandemic, as the virus has been spreading uncontrollably across the states.
All voters had to review the forms, sign, and return them. The ballots will be mailed on October 5th. This particular county is Iowa’s second largest one and is a Democratic-influenced county, where almost 50,000 requests have been returned. Recently, this county suffered from a derecho, and is now recovering. The phone system for the county election office has remained out of service up until last week.
Miller’s mailing procedure violated the clear directive stated by the Secretary of State Paul Pate, who had already told the county officials in July that the ballot request forms mailed to voters should be blank. The specific motive behind the order was to ensure uniformity.
Absentee voting is a specific process of voting where voters need to set their ballots by mail or drop them off at the county’s office. Absentee voting has become quite popular during the coronavirus pandemic as a viable way to avoid any crowded polling places. Absentee voting marked a significant turnout during Iowa’s primary in June.
Weeks later, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a new law that blocked auditors from using their database to put the personal information in the form, including the four digits of voter identification numbers, which only a few people know and usually left blank on the forms.
According to the Republican supporters, requiring voters to fill up their own information would actually make the absentee voting process more secure and transparent.
A second Iowa Judge, Patric Tott, has ruled in favor of President Donald Trump’s campaign and issued an injunction where he has ordered the county to invalidate at least 14,000 absentee requests. The ruling was issued last Friday.