Last month, the Iowa House of Representatives voted to reject 29 absentee ballots cast in District 55 in November 2018. The mailed absentee ballots were rejected because they did not have an Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb™), which would have validated that they were mailed by the Iowa law deadline of one day before an election. As a result, Incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bergan won by 9 votes.
As detailed in an editorial in The Daily Nonpareil, a newspaper in Iowa, the ballots bore no postmark, which is typical. To authenticate when an absentee ballot was mailed, the Iowa Legislature passed a law in 2016 that allowed county auditors to pay for the IMb service. However, because of the additional cost, only 7 of the 99 counties in Iowa use it.
While routing barcodes on the mailed absentee ballots confirmed that the they were sent on time, under the state law, those barcodes can not be used to validate ballots. The House voted to reject the ballots 53-44 along party lines. According to the editorial, Iowa’s House Republicans argued that postal routing barcodes are not Intelligent Mail barcodes and, therefore, can not be used to validate ballots.