Judge grants President Trump’s motion to block absentee requests in Iowa

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District Court Judge Judge Thornhill presides during a hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Thornhill said Thursday he will rule soon on a request from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots submitted by voters in Iowa’s second-largest county. (Liz Martin/The Gazette via AP, Pool)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — UPDATE August 27, 5:06 p.m.: A judge ordered an Iowa county Thursday to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots, agreeing with President Donald Trump’s campaign that the county elections commissioner overstepped by pre-filling them with voters’ personal information.

Judge Ian Thornhill issued a temporary injunction that orders Linn County Auditor Joel Miller to contact those voters in writing to inform them that the forms should not have been pre-filled with their information and cannot be processed.

Instead, voters will have to either fill out new blank requests for absentee ballots or vote in-person on Election Day.

At issue was Miller’s decision to send absentee ballot request forms to about 140,000 county voters in July that were pre-filled with their personal information, including their voter identification numbers.

Miller, a Democrat, has said that he did so to make it as easy as possible for voters to vote absentee during the coronavirus pandemic. Voters had to review, sign and return the forms to request ballots that will be mailed to them beginning Oct. 5. About 50,000 requests were returned in the Democratic-leaning county.

But Thornhill ruled that Miller’s mailing violated a “clear directive” from Iowa Secretary Paul Pate, who told county auditors in July that all absentee ballot request forms mailed to voters must be blank in order to ensure uniformity.

Trump’s campaign and state and national Republican Party groups are also suing two other Iowa counties over similar mailings that have resulted in more than 20,000 absentee ballot requests.


PREVIOUS August 27, 1:21 p.m.: A judge says he will rule soon on a request from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots submitted by voters in Iowa’s second-largest county.

Judge Ian Thornhill heard arguments on a request for a temporary injunction that would block Linn County Auditor Joel Miller from sending ballots to those voters.

Instead, the voters would have to fill out new forms to request to vote absentee.

At issue is Miller’s decision to send absentee ballot request forms to about 140,000 county voters in July that were pre-filled with their personal information, including their voter identification numbers.

The Trump campaign contends that was improper.

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