Public Hearing on Proposed Changes to Voting Laws That Would Require Identification

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Currently 31 states require some type of identification to vote, and Iowa could soon join them. Lawmakers held a public hearing on Monday regarding a bill that would require voters to show an ID to cast a ballot. The bill also includes other ID checks like signature verification.

In front of members of the House State Government Committee, people on both sides of the issue spoke out. Those opposed to the bill said the proposed changes would disenfranchise voters, particularly minority groups. Those in favor said requiring a government issued ID is just common sense and you need to show ID to do many other things in our society.

"Voter fraud is very rare, and it is so rare, as a matter of fact, you’re more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than to commit voter fraud," said Betty Andrews, Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President.

Daniel Zeno, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Iowa also spoke out against the bill, saying, "In Iowa, about 11% of adult Iowans don’t have a driver’s license or a non-operator ID. That’s about 260 eligible Iowans who aren’t accounted for in this bill. These numbers become even starker when we look at certain populations. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 25% of African Americans nationally lack a government issued photo ID, and that number tracks in Iowa."

Meanwhile, Aaron Sewell, a substitute teacher in West Des Moines, supports the changes that are being considered. "I’m in favor of this bill because of its effort to secure our greatest privilege in the nation, and that’s our right to vote," he said. "I’m pleased with the bill’s efforts to secure those rights and also to reach out to all Iowans and give them the opportunity to participate in our democratic republic."

Gary Leffler, also of West Des Moines, enumerated all of the things people need ID for in our society. From buying cigarettes to alcohol to being granted access to a military base to even inquiring a fishing license.

"Doesn’t it make sense that the level, the bar, to be able to vote should be at least equal or greater than to get a fishing license?" said Leffler.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate insisted the bill does not disenfranchise voters and will not prevent anyone from voting. A recent poll showed that a majority of Iowans surveyed support mandatory voter ID.