Iowa needs to work harder to clean up voter rolls that wrongly list people as felons, two voter advocacy groups say.
So many misidentified people have been prevented from voting in this decade that the Justice Department should consider sanctioning the state, the Brennan Center for Justice and the League of Women Voters of Iowa contend. Their warning was delivered in writing to Secretary of State Paul Pate in June and was reported last week by the Des Moines Register.
Iowa has one of the country's strictest rules on felon voting: They may not go to the polls unless they're pardoned by the governor or the president. GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds unsuccessfully pushed this year for the legislature to restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences.
Iowa, Maryland and now North Dakota stand out as the states with the hardest brakes on the revolving door between their legislatures and their lobbyists.
That's the assessment of Public Citizen, whose new national study of the rules in all 50 states finds most are tougher or better enforced than what's on the books at the federal level.
The prominent watchdog group is among those hoping to change that — in part by shining new light on the places where it sees ethical governance promoted above special interests' influence.
The limited way that Washington restricts the flow of people from Capitol Hill and the executive agencies down to K Street (and oftentimes back again) is maddening to advocates for a more open and cleaner government — and was raised to new national consciousness by Donald Trump and his "drain the swamp" campaign mantra of 2016.
Iowa's aging voter registration system, which the Russians unsuccessfully tried to hack in 2016, won't be replaced until after the 2020 elections, the secretary of state's office has confirmed.
The $7 million project to replace the 14-year-old system was launched last year. A spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate said potential vendors will be contacted soon, to be followed by a formal bidding process.
Current and former state officials said they are confident that additional security measures that have been added should prevent intrusions.
But Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, a Democrat, told The Associated Press he worries the system is running on outdated technology and could be vulnerable. He said he is disappointed at the pace of the replacement project and the lack of information that election officials have received.
If you use the telephone to declare your presidential preference, have you really participated in your party's caucuses?
Yes, say the Democrats of Iowa and Nevada, where next winter's caucuses will be crucial to winnowing the sprawling field of candidates into a handful with a genuine shot at getting nominated to take on President Trump.
In both bellwether contests, where human contact has been a central part of the process for years, it will no longer be necessary to join an evening of last-minute jawboning and deal-cutting before casting a ballot in an overheated church basement or high school cafeteria. A Democratic loyalist will be able to, quite literally, phone it in.
The tele-caucusing innovations were announced by party officials in Nevada on Monday, when the Democratic National Committee signaled its endorsement of the plan unveiled a few months ago in Iowa, home of the first contest. The states are also part of the first experiments with ranked-choice voting at the presidential level.