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Rep. Upmeyer: Ballots in contested House election in NE Iowa had no “intelligent mail barcode”

This news story was published on January 25, 2019.
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“It was great to visit with these NIACC students about the critical need for
community colleges to provide higher education and workforce training opportunities for Iowans,” Upmeyer said in a newsletter.

The following is a legislative update from Rep. Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake:

It’s been another eventful week at the Capitol! With session underway, members have begun filing bills and their schedules are filled with attending various subcommittees and committees. While the first week is ceremonial and filled with many speeches, the following week is where we really get down to work.

With all the snowy winter weather out there, please be safe on the roads. Take it slow, leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles, and give yourself extra time to make it to your destination. No one wants to end up in the ditch during this cold weather!

This year, one of the first orders of business is settling a contested election for a Northeast Iowa House District, which are rare. The last contest that we have been able to find occurred in the Senate more than 20 years ago in 1993. The issue revolves around 29 absentee ballots that arrived after Election Day.

Following past precedent, we appointed a bipartisan committee of five legislators tasked with studying the issue. The committee met twice, heard arguments made by attorneys for both sides, reviewed the law, and gathered additional material necessary to make an informed decision. In order to ensure a fair and transparent process to hear the contest, we consulted with the Democratic leadership frequently and accommodated many of their requests.

The ballots in question arrived after Election Day and did not include a traditional postmark or what is known as an “Intelligent Mail barcode” (IMb).

What this contest essentially boils down to is the definition of “intelligent mail barcode”. We added the IMb language to Code in 2016, so our memory of the bill history is fresh in our mind.

Linda Upmeyer

The IMb is not just any barcode. An IMb is a specific product offered by the Post Office that County Auditors have the option of purchasing to track absentee ballots. After opting in, the County Auditor is able to generate a unique barcode within their office and place them on each individual ballot before being mailed to the voter. The county where the dispute exists did not opt-in to this service so it is not possible that an IMb could be on one of the ballots. Again, the barcode is put on the ballot by the Auditor, not the Postal Service.

After a thorough review of the facts, a majority of the committee determined that there is no legal authority to open and tally the late-arriving ballots because they do not contain a postmark or IMb.

Iowa Code and Iowa Administrative Code are clear. The legislative history and intent surrounding IMbs is clear. We have to follow the law. To open the ballots would be asking legislators to break the law.

If we need to change the law, we should have a discussion about that. Changing the rules after the election compromises the integrity of our elections. Additionally, more than 1,000 late-arriving ballots were rejected statewide due to the lack of postmark or IMb. It is unconstitutional to treat voters differently.

We all agree that voting is a right that people have given their lives for. Rules and laws for counting votes must be in place and followed to protect that right.

I am proud of the process we used to resolve this contest and thank the members of the committee for their diligent work to act in a fair manner. We have spent a good amount of time over the first two weeks of session on this topic. I look forward to continued hard work on other topics before the House.

With session underway, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts on legislation or let me know if you need assistance dealing with a state agency or department. I can be reached by email at or by phone at (515) 281-3521.

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7 Responses to Rep. Upmeyer: Ballots in contested House election in NE Iowa had no “intelligent mail barcode”

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 25, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Lots of kool aid drinkers on this post.

  2. Allen Reply Report comment

    January 25, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Good for them, no postmark or IMb, then throw them out.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 25, 2019 at 10:31 am

    This should be done for all elections – city/state/federal – You have to really protect youself from these criminal democraps.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 25, 2019 at 9:42 am

    More voter repression on the Republican side of things. All of the ballots were mailed before the deadline. It has been reported so by postmasters. Linda doesn’t say that all the “majority” she speaks of were all the Republicans on the committee. Fraud at its finest.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 25, 2019 at 10:28 am

      It is not voter suppression, it is called following the law. If there is no physical marking on the ballot to determine when it was cast then it should not be counted, how hard is that to understand? This country has bent over backwards to try to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to vote, yet some still can’t take it seriously. If you need something postmarked by a certain date, walk into the Post Office and get it stamped. Be careful what you wish for, next time you might on the opposite side of the issue!

    • IMb rules Reply Report comment

      January 25, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Based on the Democrats history on voting fraud, I’m willing to bet that some of the late ballots were probably from dead people anyway. Voter suppression is the “race card” Democrats like to play and quite often when lose.