2nd Iowa judge backs GOP, rules ballot requests invalid

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A second Iowa judge has ruled in favor of President Donald Trump’s campaign and ordered a county to invalidate at least 14,000 absentee ballot requests.

In his ruling issued Friday evening, Judge Patrick Tott found that Woodbury County elections commissioner Patrick Gill acted improperly when he sent absentee ballot request forms to 57,000 registered voters that had their personal information filled in. About 14,000 have been returned so far.

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Iowa Republican Party and other GOP groups filed lawsuits against three Iowa counties, arguing they were trying to enhance voting security. Democrats have said Republicans want to limit mail-in voting, noting Trump has repeatedly said without proof that such voting was open to fraud.

Gill added the information to make it easier for voters to apply for absentee ballots, but the judge ruled it violated a directive from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, who ordered that forms be left blank when mailed to voters to ensure statewide uniformity.

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The decision came a day after another judge ruled that Linn County officials also had violated the secretary of state’s directive, voiding about 50,000 requests that had been returned.

County officials now must tell voters their ballot applications won’t be processed, so they can either resubmit forms or vote in-person on Nov. 3.

A hearing over a similar lawsuit is planned next week in Johnson County.

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