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Iowa legislative panel approves emergency election measures

DES MOINES — An Iowa legislative panel approved Friday several proposals from the state’s top election official, including allowing county officials to prepare mail ballots for counting ahead of time to alleviate a last-minute crunch on Election Day.

Secretary of State Paul Pate received unanimous approval from the Iowa Legislative Council to allow voters to use a driver’s license as identification at the polls even if it expired in 2020. The council also will allow Pate to relocate a polling place in an emergency and will allow nursing home residents to receive ballots by mail rather than have them hand-delivered as required by state law.

Another measure allows county election officials to remove absentee ballots from their outer envelopes on Saturday, Oct. 31, a day when county election offices are open to allow early in-person voting. The ballots will still be in a secrecy envelope, but removing them from the outer envelope will allow officials to begin tabulating the ballots sooner the following Monday, when state law allows counting to start.

Democratic state Sen. Janet Petersen said 558,000 residents have already requested a mail ballot.

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