LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Some pain in state budget

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

In order to plug a $300 million hole in the budget, he has proposed some cuts and a long list of monetary shifts and transfers. Since these new figures were just released Wednesday, it will take several days to pour over them and figure out exactly what is being proposed. For sure, whatever happens, there will be some "pain" and disappointment. Our choices are limited. Revenue growth is stagnant, and the Legislature and Governor must solve this problem now, or it will turn into a long-term nightmare.

In response to voting problems in some states during the last election cycle, the House passed two bills this week, which are designed to prevent any possible election irregularities in the future. One bill is an effort to increase the security of ballot voting during all elections. This legislation aims to allow election officials more flexibility in administering elections in order to provide greater service to the public and reduce excess time and taxpayer costs. The main points of the proposal include: moving the voter registration deadline to 20 days before an election instead of the 10 or 11 days currently in law, closing polls at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., requiring satellite voting stations to be only in public taxpayer-funded buildings, prohibiting candidates from receiving, handling or delivering absentee ballots, and prohibiting the mailing of

absentee ballots to those who are not registered to vote. Some opposed to this bill stated that we do not have problems in Iowa, and basically that is

true. But, we do not want fraud and misconduct in our elections, so this is preventative action. I supported the bill.

Another election law bill relates to what is commonly referred to as push polling. Push polls are conducted under the guise of a legitimate poll or survey. Such calls are placed by campaign workers or telemarketers hired by campaign committees. They usually contain damaging statements about a candidate and are designed to "push" a voter away from one candidate and toward another. The statements used by callers are usually false or misleading and are often shocking. Here is an example of a question used in such a call: "Would you vote for 'John Doe' if you knew he was in favor of early parole for child molesters?" The idea is to put a negative thought about a candidate into the mind of a potential voter. Both major political parties have used this type of activity, and I have always believed it to be one of the most hideous forms of campaigning ever conducted. It is ruthless and gutless, and I'm glad we are trying to do something about it. It will be difficult to enforce, but it is worth a try and I whole-heartedly supported the bill.

Rep. Dan Huseman