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Voter ID Law Continues to Move Through Legislature

DES MOINES, Iowa – After passing out of a House committee Tuesday night, a bill that would implement voter ID requirements in Iowa moved out of a Senate State Government subcommittee Wednesday morning.

The subcommittee approved the bill’s passage onto the Senate State Government Committee, despite many in attendance who opposed the legislation.

“I talked to a representative last week, and I asked him about the voter ID bill. And he said, ‘Well isn’t $10 or $15 worth it to have a vote?’ That’s a poll tax! That’s undemocratic,” said Deborah Bunka, of the Iowa Farmers Union. “And the small amount of money you have designated, and then the fact that it says, you know, what’s going to happen when that money runs out? Are people going to have to pay for their ID? That’s a poll tax! And why are we doing this? Why are we wasting this money that could be going to education, for instance. Why are we wasting it on a non-existent problem?”

The bill, SSB 1163, would require all voters in Iowa to have a state-issued voter ID card. Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office would cross-reference all newly registered voters in the state with the Iowa DOT’s database of licensed drivers or those with a state-issued ID. Any names without one would be sent a voter ID card at no cost.

But opponents of the bill say voter fraud isn’t an issue in Iowa, and that this only creates barriers for voters – especially minorities and the elderly. Furthermore, some opponents say they worry if future legislatures do not allocate enough funding for this new law, those “free” voter ID cards will soon be at the cost of the voter, further discouraging them from participating.

“I think the vast majority of county auditors will agree, certainly it’s been our experience over the past two-plus years, that we have visited with county auditors, that our absentee voting system is vulnerable,” said Deputy Secretary of State Carol Olson. “Even more to the point, voter confidence is a little bit shaken right now. As Secretary Pate has gone to forums across the state and he’s asked persons about whether or not there has been fraud, many, many people do believe that there is some fraud. We need to show our voter confidence, we need to show our voter integrity. And that is the goal of this bill.”

The bill is now on its way to beating the legislature’s first funnel of the season; any bills not passed out of committees in either chamber of the legislature by Friday, March 3, are not considered up for discussion the remainder of the session.