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Iowa Politics Roundup: GOP Cuts Registered-Voter Deficit in Half PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 09 July 2010 09:42

Iowa Republicans in the past month cut in half what was more than a 100,000-person deficit in voter registration.

As of this week, there are 699,972 active and inactive registered Democrats in Iowa and 644,838 registered Republicans, a difference of 55,134, according to the Iowa secretary of state's office. That compares with Republicans trailing Democrats by 102,450 on June 1, and by nearly 113,000 in January.

"In total, the Republicans reduced the deficit by 47,316 voters," said Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro. "Historically speaking, primaries are driven by parties. Nearly all the competitive races were found in the Republican Party this year, with the governor and three congressional districts, a secretary of state's race, a state treasurer's race."

Between June 1 and July 1, Republicans gained 37,271 registered voters, while Democrats lost 10,045 registered voters and independents lost 23,284. Voters had the ability to change their party registration at the polls, and many of them did so. Mauro said that in 2002 and 2006, Iowa also saw increases in voter registration for the party with competitive primaries.

Because party registration is not required in the general election, Mauro said voters won't necessarily change their party affiliation back before November 2, but he said "it's something [that] usually corrects itself over the next couple election cycles." He pointed out that Democrats went into the 2002 general election with a 40,000 deficit in voter registration, but Governor Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin still won re-election.

"It's really difficult to draw any definite conclusions about this year's numbers and how they'll impact the elections this fall," Mauro said. "But clearly, the primary did have an impact on the political landscape here in the state. With the number of competitive races on the Republican side, I think they were able to attract many new registered voters. I think what it does show is that Iowans are independent-minded voters."

Mauro, a Democrat who is on the ballot for re-election this November, warned incumbent Democrats of what the new voter-registration numbers could mean for their chances. "How do you deny that there's momentum there?" he said. "I think it should give everybody some pause for concern. I think you still have to work. You can't declare a winner or loser from this, but it does tell you things are moving."

TouchPlay Litigation Ends; State Avoids "Economic Catastrophe"

The State Appeal Board this week approved a $150,000 claim against the Iowa Lottery Authority and the state, concluding four years of litigation by former manufacturers, distributors, and operators of TouchPlay games.

While the claim was in favor of the plaintiffs, the settlement was far less than the $900 million in TouchPlay-related claims against the state. Dozens of plaintiffs sued following the state's decision in 2006 to prohibit TouchPlay gambling machines after initially approving them.

Attorney General Tom Miller and his staff settled the claims for $18.4 million, which is less than the $30 million in revenue collected by the state from TouchPlay vendors.

"The TouchPlay settlements saved the state from potential economic catastrophe," Miller said. "We treated TouchPlay vendors fairly, acknowledging their substantial losses. At the same time, we put in a tremendous amount of effort to minimize the financial damage to the state."