Iowa candidates on notice: Signature requirements are real

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A state panel disqualified two prominent Republican candidates yesterday due to insufficient valid signatures on their nominating petitions. A leading Democratic contender for Congress would have suffered the same fate, had a party committee not bailed her out using a questionable legal loophole. All of the candidates had been actively campaigning for months. Yet they failed to ensure that they could meet a straightforward, longstanding requirement to qualify for the ballot. Nothing like this should happen to another serious contender for public office in Iowa. The election panel consisting of Secretary of State Paul Pate, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, and Attorney General Tom Miller met on March 27 to consider a record number of objections to candidate filings. First, they unanimously rejected Libertarian Congressional candidate Bryan Jack Holder’s complaints about petitions for Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Representative David Young. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, Holder argued that the forms deviated too much from the sample provided by the Secretary of State’s office, and that the candidates engaged in unlawful “data mining” by collecting e-mail addresses and/or cell phone numbers. Next, the panel unanimously rejected GOP Congressional candidate Cyndi Hanson’s objection to Representative Steve King’s petitions, on the grounds that county names were hand-written on the header of many pages. Advocates for King demonstrated how typical that practice is by showing pages from nominating petitions for the election panel members. The message is clear: minor changes to a petition’s format, additional data beyond what is required by law, or hand-written information near the top do not invalidate petition pages. In future election cycles, Iowans should not waste time challenging nominating papers on those grounds. The Iowa Code provisions on signature requirements are intended to force would-be office-holders to demonstrate some basic level of support for their candidacies, not to

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