Judge throws out portion of 2017 Iowa voting reform law

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CULVER CITY, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Guests fill in their ballots at the Vanity Fair Social Club Oscar's Viewing Party during the 2016 Vanity Fair Social Club #VFSC for Oscar Week at PLATFORM on February 27, 2016 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa court judge has struck down a portion of a 2017 voting reform law that requires county election officials to call, write or email voters who do not completely fill out an application for an absentee ballot.

The law was written to say county officials must use the best means available to find missing information. When Secretary of State Paul Pate wrote the administrative rules to enact the law, he prohibited election officials from looking up the needed information in their electronic voter registration system. He instead required election officials to contact voters by phone, writing or by email.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa sued last year, saying Pate’s rule could lead to voter suppression.

In a ruling Thursday, Judge Karen Romano said Pate’s interpretation of the Legislature’s language is erroneous, irrational and illogical.

Pate says he will appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Additional challenged sections of the law, which require voters to present government-issued identification at polls and shorten the time frame for casting absentee ballots, are scheduled for trial in June.

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