Iowa legislators introduced a new bill on March 5 to create changes in voting for upcoming primary and general elections.
Within the bill from Sen. Roby Smith, R.-Davenport, many changes to Iowa voting accessibility would be made statewide.
Under current Iowa law, polling locations are open until 9 p.m. for state primary and general elections and other partisan elections. Polls close at 8 p.m. for all other elections.
The new bill requests to change terminology to allow polls, in all elections, to be open until 8:00 p.m., closing an hour earlier than previous elections.
Smith has said this change will create uniformity among elections.
However, Taylor Blair, president of College Democrats, said he believes the bill will have negative impacts on Iowa State students.
“It’s going to affect people everywhere in the state of course, but specifically people of Iowa State,” Blair said. “The Buchanan Hall voting location, and this was just the midterm elections, was in line until 11:30 or so p.m. People already need more time to vote. Compressing the hours will just make the lines longer and cause more voters to leave. It’s rich to us that they would even suggest shortening it.”
Along with the adjustment of hours, within the bill is a suggestion to eliminate voting locations in state-owned buildings.
The suggested change of the current Iowa law states, “A satellite absentee voting station shall not be established in any state-owned building. A satellite absentee voting station may be established at a county courthouse.”
All buildings on Iowa State’s campus are state-owned buildings. The bill being accepted would make voting no longer permitted in all campus buildings. Students and faculty would need to make off campus arrangements in order to successfully vote.
Within the provisions of the bill, individuals registered as students of Iowa State would be asked, when registering to vote, if they plan on living out of state after graduation. If a graduating student implies plans of living out of state after graduation, they would be removed from the voter registry.
Along with location restrictions, absentee ballots would no longer be accepted if not given to the auditor before the day of the election. As current law stands, absentee votes are accepted on Election Day, so long as they are postmarked before the day of election.
“It’ll be harder for people to vote, everywhere,” Blair said. “So it hurts everybody. There’s no redeeming qualities about reducing the access to vote.”