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 put nearly 2,600 citizens back on the rolls in 2016 after errors were discovered, but the newspaper found dozens of wrong rejections in just six counties before the midterm election. Pate said he was working to correct the problems.
The denials would apply in primaries but would not affect the state's first-in-the-nation, party-managed caucuses in February.
Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
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The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.
Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.
The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.
Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.
With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.