SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Former Iowa State Senator Rick Bertrand is suing Woodbury County as well as Auditor Pat Gill.
The Sioux City housing developer, who last served in the Iowa Senate in 2018, is asking a judge to issue a temporary injunction in order to allow a review of Gill’s “Stay at Home and Vote at Home” policy.
The plan, released earlier this week, features absentee voting and includes just two in-person polling sites for the upcoming primaries.
“That’s not what we’ve done in the past, that’s not historically what we’ve done. I believe that this action will cause some type of voter suppression within Woodbury County,” Bertrand said.
Woodbury County Republicans Chair Suzan Stewart says the auditor’s decision to limit the number of polling sites could not only put republican voters at a possible disadvantage but could also create potential COVID-19 hotspots in the county.
“If you have one city site, and you do have people that want to vote live, you’re going to have a crowd at that city site. I don’t know how you would line up fifty people,” Stewart said.
Bertrand says his decision to ask for legal relief is not based on partisan politics.
However, Woodbury County Democrats Chair Jeremy Dumkrieger says COVID-19 will affect all voters regardless of party affiliation and called the move by Bertrand “a distraction.”
“This is a different year. This is not about partisan politics. This is about keeping people safe. I understand what he’s saying about having more voting polls, [and] in a perfect year, democrats have historically wanted more sites to vote,” Dumkrieger said.
Bertrand says he expects a hearing to be held on the matter within the next ten days, adding it’s not just the upcoming primaries he’s concerned about.
“This is done with the best of intentions and really is all about the process. The reality of it is there’s a lot of people worried that this is becoming a democrat and a republican issue–worried this is taking the national election to an absentee ballot, which republicans are against,” Bertrand said.
KCAU 9 News reached out to Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill, who was unable to comment at this time.