Iowa Secretary of State Proposes Voter ID

Jan 5, 2017

Iowa’s secretary of state is proposing voter ID legislation that he says will ensure the integrity of the state's elections. The proposal requires a voter to show a passport, state-issued ID, driver’s license or military ID before casting a ballot. 

Though Sec. Paul Pate has yet to release a draft of the bill, he says any voters who do not have an ID will be issued a free voter identification card. Student IDs would not be accepted, but Pate says down the road that could change.

"We just want to ensure that voters are who they say they are," says Pate. "I believe that Iowa’s elections are clean and fair. But we need to take steps to keeping them that way."

The legislation also implements signature verification and electronic poll books, which allow precinct workers to look up voter registration information. Pate estimates his proposals will cost about $1 million.

People who study in-person voter fraud say the crime is rare. Last year a Des Moines woman was arrested and charged with two felonies after she attempted to vote a second time at an early voting location. 

Most Democrats oppose voter ID, saying it can create barriers to voting for some people. Statehouse Democratic staffer Ron Parker tweeted that Pate's bill is, "a partisan proposal that will suppress voter turnout across Iowa".

The legislation does not change same-day voter registration, including the practice of attesting. An attester is a registered voter who signs an oath swearing that the identity and  address of a person in their voting precinct makes them eligible to vote. This allows the individual to register and cast a ballot, even if they lack an ID.