- Iowa Legislature did nothing about private organizations injecting themselves into the running of elections and prioritizing compliant County Auditors responsibilities
There is a Scott County Republican Central Committee meeting to be held this Wednesday September 15, 7:00 PM, at the Eastern Ave. Public Library in Davenport. Republicans concerned about the integrity of the vote and holding Republican lawmakers to task should be there. A guest speaker Roby Smith is expected to address election reform “achievements” during the last legislative session. The improvements were marginal, indeed rather pathetic given that Republicans hold both houses of the state legislature and the governorship.
It should be noted that somehow democracy in Iowa survived in earlier decades when absentee voting by mail and early voting was strictly controlled yet voter turn-out was as good or better than today. Voting by mail is fraught with opportunities for mass fraud and individual privacy issues. Early voting is not conducive to the most informed vote. It is simply good government to primarily rely on in-person voting with limited exceptions for absentee voting by mail and only in a period, as in back in the day, for at most ten days prior to Election Day.
Voter ID (of a sort) was passed in a previous session but the Republican dominated Iowa legislature failed, and leadership was a big part of that failure, to adequately address fraudulent and potentially fraudulent activity possible in Iowa similar to what was exposed after the 2020 election.
Improvements were made in a couple of areas. The legislature reduced early voting to 20 days before the election but that is still almost three weeks prior — an eternity for potential political developments and revelations — but it was all rather tepid given the continued promotion of vote by mail in spite of knowledge of the modus operandi of onesy-twosey cheaters and mass fraud opportunities.
There remain poor audit trail regulations and chain of custody security besides the remaining looseness in vote by mail. That same day voting registration continues to exist reflects an assumption by the legislature that their constituents do not take civic duty seriously.
But perhaps the most egregious failure was not outlawing private organizations the opportunity to target election activity to their partisan advantage using the color of official activity, indeed parlaying existing tax funded activity as a force multiplier for their get out the vote priorities.
That is what happened in Iowa to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars invested by CTCL an organization run by partisan Democrat hacks, funded by a mega wealthy partisan creep targeting must win counties and other enclaves. It does not matter how effective it was or was not. The unprincipled matter of allowing it is what is at issue. And the Iowa legislature has not done anything to prevent it. See our embedded links at the end of this commentary for related reading.
Dangling grants to County Auditors responsible for not only being above reproach but having a civic obligation to avoid appearance of partisan emphasis in running elections engenders cynicism toward the electoral process. That is not good and the legislature should not allow it.
Punishing by way of some dollar for dollar aid deletion to counties is inadequate to meet the potential for corruption as the most partisan Auditor offices would have no moral qualms about turning their offices over to partisan hacks. Such mega funded influence buying organizations would be happy to own the processes and take over the running of county election operations. That is because the most partisan counties might think ~~ well we get our partisan strategy paid for, so what if it is a wash financially because the state reduces something elsewhere.
It should be outlawed. County Auditors must be above reproach in fact and appearance.
Some auditors including Republican may wrap themselves in some holier-than-though umbrage that they are above reproach (even in appearance) and such grants as Zuckerberg offered is “found money” and would only be used in furtherance of their established program.
If counties are not adequately budgeting to run an election for their population in their proper roll of siting, being agents for securing the integrity of one man one vote, counting and providing auditable trails — then that county has problems everywhere. The state may need to step in with an emergency grant for those purposes. However emphasizing early voting, voting by mail (the most insecure way to vote) and subtly targeted turn-out-the-vote efforts, all of which are the emphasis of grant writing political hacks (frankly of both parties) ought not be a pass-through effort using official county government auspices or tax resources.
Nothing prevents the likes of Zuckerberg funded political operations from having get-out-the-vote efforts. That is the warp and woof of political parties and PACS and any independent agenda driven organizations. If they want to wrap themselves selves in a high-sounding “non-partisan” cloak and do the things their grant offers entailed, that is fine as well and have at it. It is a free country but they ought not be able to parlay tax money and official color to their activities.
Some might regard our position from a partisan conservative perspective, to the effect ~~ what are you worried about, conservatives won the state, the Democrats took a beating in spite of Zuckerberg money, it was a waste of his money ~~. Well to take that position would indeed be partisan (and shortsighted at that) however even with that in mind Democrats are way ahead of Republicans in gaming strategies and engendering corruptive influences. It is just too sordid.
Our position is plain. No outside organization charitable or otherwise no matter their partisan pedigree ought to be allowed to inject themselves into official electoral processes with targeted operational grant programing. Passive Election Day allowance of building useage if tax supported entities have proven inadequate is an exception that should be very limited.
More on the implications of not preventing the use of private money to run County Auditor election responsibilities in future post.