DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Democratic Party, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Monday filed a lawsuit to validate pre-filled absentee ballot requests, including at least 64,000 signed forms rejected last week by district court judges in Linn and Woodbury counties.
Their petitions argue that the court rulings are rooted in a directive from the Iowa Secretary of State they say violates state law, infringes on local authority to administer elections, and makes it harder for Iowans to vote.
County Auditors in Linn, Johnson, and Woodbury Counties sent more than 200,000 absentee ballot requests. Those ballot requests were pre-filled with the information needed to obtain an absentee ballot. The Trump campaign successfully sued to stop those ballots.
“It is implausible to conclude that near total completion of an absentee ballot application by the auditor is authorized under Iowa law where the legislature has specifically forbidden government officials from partially completing the same document,” Linn County District Court Judge Ian Thornhill wrote in his opinion.
“The Defendant has knowingly violated the lawful directive of the Iowa Secretary of State in issuing the pre-populated ABR forms in this case,” Woodbury County District Court Judge Patrick Tott wrote.
In July, the Iowa Legislative Council approved Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s plan to send blank absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter in the state. His emergency directive also blocked county auditors from mailing forms with pre-filled information.
“Partisan politics have no place in free and fair elections, and today’s challenge will help ensure that no Iowan is forced to risk their health during a pandemic in order to cast their ballot,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith. “Iowa Democrats will fight tooth and nail against every malicious effort by desperate Republican politicians to suppress our fundamental right to vote. We look forward to the court upholding the local authority of county auditors and rightfully validating the absentee ballot requests.”
Pate said if the lawsuit is successful, it will effectively prevent every Iowan from receiving a blank absentee ballot request form.
“It is unfortunate that the Democratic Party is now opposed to a statewide mailing of absentee ballot request forms. They apparently only want voters in Democrat-heavy counties to request ballots, using request forms pre-filled with voters’ personal information. Not only would this lawsuit prevent my office from mailing absentee ballot request forms statewide, it would also remove additional flexibility for Iowa’s military, overseas, and healthcare facility voters,” he said.
“The Democratic Party has already confused and potentially disenfranchised voters, and wasted taxpayer dollars in Linn, Woodbury and Johnson counties. Now they’re doubling down by suing over a lawful emergency directive that the bipartisan Iowa Legislative Council unanimously voted for, including their party’s House and Senate leaders.
“We would encourage voters impacted by the decisions in Linn and Woodbury counties to utilize our mailing, which they will be receiving very soon. The official absentee ballot request form mailing from my office will go to all active registered voters in the state,” Pate added.
Read lawsuit petitions and the emergency declaration below: