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News 8.18.20: President Trump Visits Storm-Damaged Iowa, Absentee Ballot Lawsuit and More

Associated Press

President Donald Trump visited Cedar Rapids today to take a look at damage after a major wind storm blew through parts of Iowa last week.  Governor Reynolds says the aftermath is worse and more widespread than flooding.  President Trump promised to help rebuild the state before leaving for a visit to Arizona.

Governor Reynolds asked for $4 billion in federal help and funding for individuals in 27 counties.  According to FEMA, the president haven’t approved the individual help yet.

Woodbury County’s top election official says he isn’t commenting over a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and Republican Party groups.

Woodbury County is being added to a lawsuit over absentee ballot requests.

Lawsuits were filed last week against two Democratic-leaning counties—Linn and Johnson.

The three counties sent pre-filled ballot request forms to voters.  The Republican groups claim those forms are invalid because they violate the secretary of state’s directive that only blank forms should be mailed. The county auditors have said they believe that’s an incorrect interpretation of the law.

Kanye West will appear on the ballot in Iowa this November, unless there is a challenge filed before a deadline on August 27th.  That’s according to the Secretary of State Paul Pate. 

Iowa’s Attorney General issued a statement today says he opposes Postal Service changes and encourages Iowans to vote by mail.

Tom Miller says he is encouraged the Postmaster General temporarily suspended some changes, but should reverse what has already been done. 

Miller did request to join a lawsuit challenging changes at the U.S. Postal Service.  Governor Reynolds did not consent to the lawsuit.  Miller agreed in May of last year to seek the governor’s approval before joining multistate lawsuits.

Miller vows to do everything he can to ensure all eligible votes will be counted in November.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited prison officials from blocking the view of execution witnesses before the condemned inmate is declared dead, signaling that they’re willing to repeat the much-criticized step in a future execution. The bill was introduced after prison officials closed the witness viewing curtain for 14 minutes during the August 2018 execution of Carey Dean Moore, which prevented members of the media from seeing the full process. Supporters of the bill said the move prevented the public from knowing whether something went wrong with the execution.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will speak at the Republican National Convention next week. The Republican governor has developed a national profile through her hands-off approach to the coronavirus pandemic, gaining attention from President Donald Trump. Instead of ordering statewide lockdowns or business closures, Noem has encouraged “personal responsibility” to mitigate the spread of the virus. Noem has made frequent appearances on Fox News and even installed a small TV studio at the governor’s office last year. Her spokesman did not provide details on when she would speak or for how long, saying “things are still being worked out.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports nine more deaths in the state due to complications of COVID-19. The state corona virus website also tracked just over 300 new cases in a 24-hour period. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health still hasn’t publicly acknowledged a glitch that skewed the number of confirmed cases.

Iowa’s coronavirus website has made the pandemic look less severe than it is because of a software error that artificially lowers the number of new confirmed cases. Dana Jones, an Iowa City nurse practitioner, said Monday that the Iowa Department of Public Health has inadvertently been reporting fewer new infections and a smaller percentage of daily positive tests than is truly the case. The department acknowledged the glitch in an email to Jones Friday and said the department is working on a fix. Iowa’s overall number of more than 52,600 who have tested positive since March is not affected.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.
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