Woodbury County is the second county in Iowa to have a judge rule that the County Auditor violated state law by sending out absentee ballot request forms with some voter information pre-filled in.
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and Republican Party groups successfully sued Linn County, seeking to invalidate thousands of absentee ballot request forms that have been returned by voters.
Friday night judge Patrick Tott issued a temporary injunction against Woodbury County auditor Pat Gill that invalidates 57,000 absentee ballot request forms his office sent to county voters.
Tott’s ruling means Gill will have to send a letter to registered voters that the initial forms are invalid and that they will have to fill in a new blank request form if they want to vote absentee.
Around 14,000 forms that had names, birth dates and voter pin numbers pre-filled in had already been returned.
Gill contends it will cost at least $20,000 to notify each voter that the initial form will not be accepted and a new absentee request was needed.
By law, the Republican party will post a $25,000 or 125% bond to cover the estimated cost of the new mailing.
Tott ruled that it was clear to the court that Secretary of State Paul Pate did have the authority to issue his ruling that county auditors must send out blank absentee forms to ensure statewide uniformity for the November election, and that the emergency directive was clear because Iowa continues to face a natural disaster due to Covid-19.
The ruling also states that providing pre-populated information to the voter violates state code and that information should come from the voter and not the auditor.
Tott states in granting the temporary injunction that voters may still vote in person at the polls on November 3rd or still have time to request a new absentee form.
Gill says he will meet with Woodbury County Attorney Patrick Jennings on Monday and is not commenting until after that meeting.
A 3rd lawsuit is pending in Johnson County.