DES MOINES, Iowa – A judge’s ruling has struck down parts of a 2017 voting reform law that had been challenged in a lawsuit from the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.
In Judge Joseph Seidlin’s ruling, which was published Tuesday, many of the requirements of the law were determined to be unconstitutional.
HF 516 required voters to show one of six forms of acceptable identification at the polls before a ballot could be cast. It also required that registered voters who did not have an Iowa driver’s license or identification card, be sent a voter ID card. Election officials were not allowed to issue voter ID cards to registered voters who did have a driver’s license or state ID card. Seidlin’s ruling says election officials must now issue a voter ID card to any voter who asks for one.
“All eligible, registered voters should be able to ask for and receive a Voter ID Card from their county auditor so that every voter can cast a ballot as easily as every other voter,” stated the ruling.
Seidlin also struck down the part of the law that allowed county auditors to reject a ballot if they thought the signature on record for a registered voter did not match the signature on an application for an absentee ballot or the envelope.
“The signature matching provisions of HF 516 do not pass rational basis scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Iowa Constitution. Further, as the legislation does not provide for any procedure to protect the rights of a voter whose absentee ballot is erroneously rejected due to a signature mismatch when the vote is received after 5 p.m. on the Saturday before a general election, the provision also fails on procedural due process considerations,” according to the ruling.
A previous temporary order by Judge Seidlin that enjoined Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate from including the language “’[a]n absentee ballot cannot be issued until ID number is provided’ or indicating that such information is ‘required’” on the absentee ballot application has now been made permanent.
Iowa Secretary of State Pate issued the following statement about the ruling:
“This ruling is a victory for election integrity. My goal has always been to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. Iowans have overwhelmingly voiced their support for Voter ID and this law ensures voters will be asked to provide identification before casting their ballot. Additionally, the court found that the requirement of a voter verification number on an absentee ballot request places no additional burden on voters. I appreciate the District Court’s decision that upholds the principles of Voter ID and election integrity. I will continue to fight to ensure Iowa has clean, fair elections statewide.”