|Paul D. Pate
Secretary of State
Des Moines, IA 50319
|OFFICE OF THE IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 10, 2016
Pate Hails Passage of Bill Making it Easier for Overseas Military Members to Vote
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate applauds the Iowa Legislature and Governor Terry Branstad for making it easier for Iowa's overseas military members and citizens to vote, and ensuring their votes are counted. The legislation, House File 2147, passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Branstad Thursday morning.
The bill gives Iowans serving or visiting overseas an extra 30 days to request, receive and return special absentee ballots, extending the time from 90 days to 120 days prior to an election.
"We should do everything possible to make sure the people defending our right to choose our elected representatives are also given the opportunity to cast their ballots. Extending the time to 120 days will make it easier for them to do that," Secretary Pate said.
The legislation also removes an obstacle in the election process that currently prevents some ballots cast by overseas and military voters from being counted. Prior to passage this bill, the wording in Iowa Code created a dead end for military ballots by requiring an absentee request for a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). That provision forced county auditors to reject ballots that were otherwise complete and valid.
"We are doing away with that provision. We must respect the votes of our military members who often times are in harm's way and fighting for the freedoms we enjoy," Secretary Pate said.
"We greatly appreciate the collaborative effort between Secretary of State Pate, the Iowa Legislature, and Governor Branstad to provide greater voting access for Iowa servicemembers, especially those serving overseas. This law strengthens our Iowa servicemembers' Constitutional right to vote while they are defending our freedoms," said Col. Greg Hapgood with the Iowa National Guard.
Joining Secretary Pate, Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds at the bill signing ceremony were state legislators, county auditors, Iowa National Guard Brigadier General Drew Dehaes and Captain Kathy Barton, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Col. Robert King, representatives from several veterans groups, and members of the U.S. Army.