Iowa District Court Judge Robert Hanson on Monday issued an emergency stay, siding with Democrats, against a directive issued this past summer by Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, that allowed only blank absentee ballot applications.
“It completely escapes this court how the fairness and uniformity of the absentee ballot-application process could possibly be threatened by allowing county auditors to simply continue practices they had been following for some time,” Hanson said, according to Bloomberg.
Hanson noted there was an “almost complete” lack of evidence more absentee voting would result in increased voter fraud.
“Three rogue, liberal county auditors blatantly broke Iowa election law, and they were caught red-handed,” Aaron Britt, a spokesperson for the Iowa GOP, told Fox News in a statement.
“On the same day early voting began in Iowa, Democrats made a pathetic last-ditched attempt to allow these auditors to break the safeguards laid out in Iowa law to uphold the integrity and fairness of our elections — adding to the chaos and confusion they started in the first place,” he added. “This is irresponsible and unacceptable.”
The Iowa Democratic Party did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Monday was the first day for early voting in Iowa, and was also when absentee ballots were allowed to begin being distributed to voters.
More than 632,500 absentee ballots have been requested by Iowa voters, according to Pate. Registered Democrats have asked for more than 335,000 absentee ballots while Republicans have requested almost 187,000. About 108,000 ballots have been requested by no-party voters.
The status of absentee balloting in Iowa will be hotly contested ahead of the Nov. 3 election, just 28 days away, as both the presidential and senatorial races are up for grabs in the state.
Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump by 0.5 points in Iowa, according to an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. Meanwhile, Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, trails Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield by 5 points.