Guest Opinion | Voting is essential in American democracy

Members from The League of Women Voters of Iowa call for Iowans to fight for democracy.


Cecilia Shearon

City Councilor Janice Weiner accepts a ballet from a voter during early voting polls at the Old Capitol Mall on Oct. 26, 2021. The opportunity to vote early and in person started on Oct. 13, 2021.

The political divide in our nation weighs heavily on all of us. In March 2021, Iowa lawmakers decided to make the foundation of our democracy – voting – more difficult by creating unnecessary burdens for voters to exercise their fundamental right. These new laws not only impact voters but also candidates, election officials, and other officials such as the secretary of state.

Government serves best when it is open and transparent. Democracy works best when more people are involved. To benefit voters, sections of Iowa’s new restrictive laws, SF413 and SF568, must be amended or repealed.

The League of Women Voters of Iowa is partnering with 11 organizations and appealing to lawmakers to amend sections of the newly enacted voting laws. Our partners include Common Good Iowa; Corridor Community Action Network; Des Moines Chapter, The Links, Incorporated; Episcopal Diocese of Iowa; Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund; Iowa Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Iowa Shares; Progressive Action for the Common Good, Quad Cities; and Sierra Club Iowa Chapter.

Iowa’s new law makes voting harder, disqualifies voters more easily, shortens voting time by 31 percent, makes elections more difficult to administer, and invites political party interference in elections. We encourage registered Iowa voters to sign our petition.

These restrictive laws also impose new or more stringent criminal penalties on election officials and others. Here in Iowa, people could face criminal charges for returning ballots for those who are unable to do so themselves.

The new voting rights legislation also requires every county auditor in Iowa to publish a daily absentee ballot report of the number of request forms received, the number of ballots sent, and the number of absentee ballots received.

Further, these county commissioners must break down the totals received by mail, delivered to a dropbox, hand-delivered, and voted in person at a satellite station. Additionally, local law agencies and the state patrol are specifically identified and authorized to enforce the new act to prevent violations.

Although the 2020 federal election drew the highest voter turnout in the U.S, breaking records despite the global coronavirus pandemic, efforts to undermine the election process continue with lies of a stolen election.

In 2021, Iowa was among 19 states that enacted 33 laws to make it harder for Americans to vote. Simultaneously, lawmakers in 25 states enacted 62 laws with provisions that expand voting access. Unfortunately, this expansion does not balance the scales because states that have enacted restrictive laws are too often the states where voting is already difficult.

The League is a proud supporter of our democracy and voting rights. The 88th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature adopted these new restrictive laws to disenfranchise voters. Voter disqualification restricts suffrage – the constitutional right to vote.

The League and our partners value democracy because our forefathers chose our form of government and granted its citizens the power to elect their leaders. Voting has a major impact on our daily lives. Join us. Voting is the best way to raise your voice and make a difference in our communities. Make your voice count and voting easier for all citizens.

-Terese Grant, LWVIA President

Paula Vaughan and Anne Spencer, LWVJC Co-Presidents

Carolyn Klaus, LWV Ames and Story County, President

Cherie Dargan, LWV Black Hawk-Bremer Counties, President

Jean McMenimen, LWV Linn County President

Tamara Prenosil, LWV Dubuque President

Liz Hansen, LWV Grinnell

Bonnie Pitz, LWV Jasper County

Teresa Bomhoff, LWV Metropolitan Des Moines

Holly Oppelt, LWV Muscatine

Mary Stewart, LWV Ottumwa

Mary Ellen Ellyson, LWV Sioux City

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