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Smart barcode for absentee ballots signed into law

Smart barcode for absentee ballots signed into law

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DES MOINES — The envelopes that contain absentee ballots for Iowa elections must have an intelligent barcode that contains shipping information.

That requirement and a batch of other legislation were signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The new law allows local elections officials to determine if an absentee ballot was mailed by the deadline. Previously, using an intelligent barcode was optional.

That created some consternation in November when the House District 55 race in Northeast Iowa was decided by just nine votes and more than 20 absentee ballots went uncounted because they arrived after Election Day. Local officials said they could not determine if the ballots were submitted on time.

It was eventually determined 19 of the ballots were submitted on time, but after a lengthy review by the courts and the Iowa House, the ballots were not counted.

The new law aims to prevent a repeat.

The bill also clarifies that Iowans may participate in only one presidential precinct caucus per election cycle.

Democrats this year will allow some Iowans to participate online. That raised concerns some may participate in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

Other signings

In other action, Reynolds signed into law a new state fee for electric vehicle registration. When fully phased in, the fee will cost owners of electric vehicles an additional $130 a year.

The goal is to maintain the Road Use Tax Fund that supports the construction and maintenance of Iowa roads and bridges. The RUTF provides 45 percent of the funds for state, county and city roads.

State officials worry that as electric vehicle sales grow, fuel tax revenues that support transportation will continue to decline.

Reynolds also signed a bill improving access to DNA testing for wrongfully convicted Iowans. Backers said Iowa currently has one of the most-restrictive laws in the nation, and there have been no DNA-based exonerations.

The law removes eligibility restrictions for post-conviction DNA testing. It also ensures unknown profiles can be entered into law enforcement DNA databases to potentially prove innocence and reveal the real perpetrators.

Also, Reynolds signed a bill designed to strengthen consumer protections for taxpayers filing their annual returns.

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State house reporter for The Courier/Lee Enterprises.

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