11:00 p.m. UPDATE: Woodbury County Judge Patrick Tott has ruled against Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill in an absentee ballot request form lawsuit filed by the Trump Campaign earlier this month.
This was one of a handful of lawsuits the campaign and other Republican National Committee members filed against counties in Iowa who sent pre-filled out absentee ballot request forms to registered voters.
Judge Tott heard arguments Friday morning in a hearing held online and in a ruling late Friday stated those ballot forms sent by Woodbury County election commissioner Pat Gill would be voided.
Gill had sent over 56,000 ballot request forms to registered voters. regardless of their party affiliation, within the county that had their personal information already filled out. According to court documents, the county has received about 16,000 Absentee Ballot Request forms (ABR's), of which, approximately 14,000 are in response to the mailed pre-populated ABR's.
This matter stems from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the Disaster Emergency instated by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on March 9, 2020 and the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump on March 17, 2020. In response to those declarations, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate issued an Emergency Election Directive on July 17, 2020, allowing the state to mail an Official State of Iowa Absentee Ballot Request form to all active registered voters in the state ahead of the November election. The form was expected to be blank except for the election date and type.
Court documents claim that Gill, following Pate's proclamation, sent ABR's with voter identification information pre-populated "to attempt to control the costs of compliance... and to assist voters with the difficulties they have with correctly supplying their absentee voter ID information."
Judge Tott ruled that the ABR's sent by Gill are invalid and must be voided, therefore those who sent in the pre-populated forms will need to make another request for an absentee ballot. Woodbury County states they would have to hire at least 5 temporary employees and that it would cost upwards of $20,000 to notify those individuals of their voided request. Therefore Judge Tott ordered the Trump Campaign and RNC officials to pay the county $25,000.
This ruling by Judge Tott is similar to another ruling in Iowa this week, where a judge in Linn County ruled that they too violated the Iowa Secretary of State's directive and that all ABR's must be uniform statewide.
5:00 p.m. FRIDAY
The legal battle over absentee ballots between the Trump re-election campaign and the Woodbury County Auditor went before a judge Friday.
That hearing, which was held "online", was aimed at invalidating 57,000 absentee ballot request forms sent out by auditor Pat Gill.
The Trump Campaign says he acted improperly when he sent out forms that had their personal information filled in.
Thursday, a judge in eastern Iowa voided similar forms that had been sent out by the Linn County auditor. It is possible we might get a ruling by the end of the day.