Paul Pate

Joyce Russell/IPR

When Iowans go to the polls next week for schoolboard elections, they should take note of some new requirements for proving you’re a valid voter.     

It’s part of the Voter ID bill the legislature approved this year. 

The new mandate to show identification at the polls doesn’t go into effect until next year, but in the meantime other verification will be required for some voters.  

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At least two of Iowa’s 99 county auditors say a directive from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to verify the status of felons in a state voter registration database is an expensive and legally burdensome unfunded mandate. 

Early this year, counties were told that in April they would receive instructions for processing voter records to determine if any felons were illegally registered to vote. Counties received these directions Monday, and the auditors of Linn and Johnson counties are not happy.

Joyce Russell/IPR

On a partisan vote of 26 to 21, the GOP-controlled Senate last night approved its version of an elections bill that will require voters to present identification at the polls. 

The bill also requires pollworkers to verify signatures of voters, adds some complexity to absentee voting, as well as limiting the window for early voting.

That has led Democrats to argue that the bill will make it harder for Iowans to be handed a ballot, and more complicated  to complete the voting process. 

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Unofficial totals from last week’s election are out from the Secretary of State’s office, showing turnout among Iowa voters was down slightly compared to 2012.  

Officials say the numbers reflect the weaker support for Hillary Clinton compared to Barack Obama four years ago.    

More than than one-and-a-half million Iowans voted this year.

“In terms of all registered voters turnout was 71.2 percent according to the data we have so far,” said Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Hall.

Sarah Boden/IPR / Iowa Public Radio

Gov. Terry Branstad said on Monday morning that he has “great confidence” Iowa’s Secretary of State, county auditors and poll watchers will make sure the upcoming election is “honest and clean.”  But when asked about GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeting that Republican leaders deny that there’s “large scale voter fraud,” the governor pivoted to discussing what he perceives as a media bias against his party’s nominee.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa voters can start casting their ballots by mail today. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been campaigning in this state this week like it’s their last chance. Because with many voters it may be. Hillary Clinton campaigns in Des Moines today while Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs on Wednesday.

Iowa’s Secretary of State says he expects more than 35% of Iowa ballots to be cast early starting today. Republicans here have seen a slight increase in voters requesting absentee ballots since 2012, while Democrats have seen a big drop off.

League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

Republican Secretary of State-elect Paul Pate says he hopes to have the option for Iowans to register to vote online before the 2016 primaries. But at a public hearing  Tuesday in Des Moines, voter rights groups say it’s unfair.