DES MOINES (KWL) — For the second year in a row, Republicans in Iowa are calling for big changes to Iowa’s voting and election security systems.

Identical companion bills are advancing in both houses that would dramatically change the way recounts are done, the way people vote by mail, and also prevent election commissioners from accepting private donations.

Currently in Iowa, a candidate requesting a recount can request that specific precincts be reviewed, and can also request a manual or automatic recount. Under proposals SSB 3143 and HSB 719, candidates requesting a recount in one precinct would have to request a recount for the entire polling area; whether it’s a city, a county or an entire congressional district.

“The important part about this is that we treat all votes fairly,” said Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker. Van Lancker, a Democrat, was one of six auditors on a panel that made recommendations to the State House.

The bills also require a candidate to choose manual recount or automatic recount throughout the process. It was a point of contention in highly publicized IA-02 recount between Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democrat Rita Hart.

The proposed legislation would also expand recount boards throughout Iowa. He proposes a system in which counties with 15,000 or fewer people have a three-person recount board, counties between 15,000 and 50,000 have five people, and counties with more than 50,000 have a seven-person board.

Van Lancker says they didn’t propose that, and instead proposed a system based on the number of ballots cast — not population.

“For example, in Polk County, you might have a small school board race with only 300 ballots. But because of the size, they would have to have a seven-person board,” Van Lancker said.

At a state government committee meeting on Thursday, Sen. Pam Jochum, (D) Dubuque, said she agreed with most of the recount changes, but wanted to work more closely with county auditors.

less than a year ago, Republicans passed a bill that shortened Iowa’s absentee voting window from 29 to 20 days, shortening the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot from 120 to 70 days before an election, closing polls one hour earlier, banning county auditors from sending an absentee ballot application forms to people without them asking, and prevented auditors from pre-filling personal information on application forms.

Also as part of these new companion bills is another security measure for mail-in ballots. In addition to individuals listing their driver’s license number or voter identification number on the absentee ballot application form, they will also be required to put it on the inner envelope when they return the official ballot.

Republicans say it’s just a matter of duplicating a security measure up front and putting it in the back as well.

“SSB 3143 continues our goal of making Iowa a state where it’s easy to vote…but hard to cheat,” said Sen. Roby Smith, (R) Davenport.

If a person forgets to put their voter verification information on the “affidavit” envelope, the county auditor should contact them and inform them of the error. The auditor can send it back and tell it to try again, or the person can go to their office and do it.

Democrats argue that the mail-in voting period now lasts less than three weeks, many listeners will run out of time to do so, and many legal voters will be shut out of the process.

“You tell me how a listener is going to have time to get their hands on a high percentage of people who – they didn’t intentionally leave that information out…they just didn’t realize how bad it was. was important,” Sen told Jochum.

This week is funnel week in the Legislative Assembly and all bills that do not make it through committee are dead. The House elections bill came out of committee on Wednesday and the Senate bill on Thursday; both on party line votes.