Thousands of Iowans should be watching the mail for new state-issued Voter ID cards they’ll need at the polls starting next year if they don’t already have an official government-issued ID.
It’s part of Iowa’s controversial new voter ID statute approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Branstad.
The newly-designed state-issued cards are going out starting in this week to 123,000 Iowans who are registered to vote, but who do not show up on a list from the Department of Transportation indicating voters who have a driver’s license or a non-drivers ID.
“It should be easy to vote but hard to cheat,” said Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate in a statement. “That's what this new law ensures.”
Starting next year, voters will be required to present a government-issued ID at the polls, including a driver’s license or non-drivers ID, a passport, a military ID, or the new state voter ID card.
Anyone who does not receive the card by late December is advised to call their county auditor.
“I encourage them to be on the lookout for their voter ID cards in the mail,” Pate said. “And when they receive their card, open it, sign it, and keep it.”
A voter who misplaces the new card will also have to contact the county auditor.
“There is no doubt that thousands of Iowans are going to misplace these ID cards and that thousands more will have a more difficult time participating in the democratic process because of Paul Pate,” said
Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Jim Mowrer. "Sending out voting ID cards during the holidays and without the necessary public education campaign to alert voters of this change shows a lack of commitment and sincerity from Paul Pate.”
“We are working with numerous stakeholder groups, both those who supported and who opposed the bill, to educate Iowans about the changes,” responded Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Hall in an e-mail. “There will be extensive public education regarding the law, and no eligible voter will be turned away from the polls.”
The mailing will cost the state $79,000, which Hall called “under budget.”
From now on the new cards will also be issued to newly-registering voters not on the DOT list.