Voter ID laws differ from state to state, and are classified into two groups: strict and non-strict. Iowa’s current Voter ID laws are considered non-strict — meaning that some voters without acceptable identification have an option to cast a ballot that will be counted without further action on the part of the voter.
Iowa Code Section 48A.5 outlines the qualifications to register to vote in Iowa. Any person wishing to register to vote must have one of the following:
- Possess a valid passport or identity card and registration issued under authority of the United States secretary of state, or
- An alternative form of identification consistent with the provisions of applicable federal and state requirements
All alternative forms of identification that are currently accepted under the Iowa Secretary of State office are:
- Iowa driver’s license or non-driver ID card
- Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
- S. Passport
- S. Military ID
- ID card issued by employer
- Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
If a voter in Iowa does not have any of these identifications, they may still be able to vote if:
- They cast a provisional ballot.
- They sign an affidavit of eligibility.
Early voting in the state of Iowa for presidential election years lasts 40 days and is allowed until the day before the national Election Day, one of the longest in the country. Early voting in Iowa is primarily done via absentee voting.
Voter Integrity and Modernization Act
The Iowa House and Senate have proposed legislation that addresses some of the problems listed above. In March of this year, House File 516 was voted off of the House Floor and sent to the Senate. The Senate amended it and passed it back over to the House where it was again debated Monday of this week. Below is a summary of how HF 516 will improve Iowa’s voting system:
House File 516 ensures that registered voters are who they say they are when they vote, and that they vote only once. This verification will apply to both in-person voting and absentee voting.
House File 516 requires the showing of an ID by all voters at polling site. Voters may use existing Iowa DOT-issued IDs, passports, or military IDs for all who have them. If a registered voter does not have one of the aforementioned forms of ID, a voter ID will be issued to them, free of charge.
House File 516 requires an ID number on all absentee ballot requests. This could be a driver’s license number, passport number, military ID number, non-operator ID number, or the identification number present on the new voter ID card. Absentee requests without an ID number will be returned to voter to cure, so no one will be denied the right to vote.
Updated technology is pivotal when working to ensure the integrity of Iowa’s voting system. HF 516 encourages county precincts to implement the use of electronic pollbooks, which allow for the easy scanning of IDs and a quick verification process. A large number of Iowa’s 99 counties are already using the electronic poll book program; and the ones who have implemented it have benefited from its security, how easy it is for precinct official’s to use, and the speed and accuracy of results. For those counties that have not yet upgraded their systems, HF 516 creates a revolving loan fund that is available to help with the startup cost to improve technology.
House File 516 creates a new voting system that will instill and replenish confidence in Iowa’s voting process.
In February of this year, The Des Moines Register reported that “a majority of Iowans say they think voters should have to present a government-issued identification card before casting a ballot.” It is the will of Iowans to see that those voting on Election Day are who they say they are, and House Republicans have responded to their constituents by passing House File 516.
House File 516 creates an earliest day to request absentee ballots at 120 days. Under current law a voter may request an absentee ballot at any time before an election, even years. This causes confusion and inconsistency for county auditors. Often times a voter’s information will change between the time they request a ballot and when it actually needs to be sent, or duplicate request will be made by the same voter because they forgot they requested a ballot already. By capping the date by which a request can be sent in, correct ballots will be sent to the correct requester ensuring voter integrity will in no way be compromised in the state.
House File 516 moves the latest date to request an absentee ballot by mail to 10/11 days before an election. This change will create a timeframe to request, and return, absentee ballots in manner that is consistent an accommodating to the current postal delivery standards. Currently the deadline to return an absentee ballot is the Friday before the election, making it impossible to get the ballot to and from the voter in time for their vote to be counted.
It is true that historically Iowa has not had many instances of voter fraud, and many people argue that this means the voting system in our state does not need any change. However, if Iowa wants to remain a state with the most secure elections, then changes that are proposed by House File 516 need to be enacted to keep that integrity.
One of the biggest arguments made against House File 516 during debate by House Democrats was that it is suppressing the vote; this is a false accusation. The only voter that will be suppressed under HF 516 is one who is not legally allowed to participate in elections. For law-abiding Iowans who are registered to vote in the state, House File 516 will pose no burdens on their ability to cast a ballot.
Democrats are deliberately perpetuating false claims that voter suppression will occur with the enactment of House File 516, yet they are unable to provide even one hypothetical circumstance in which someone will be denied the right to vote under these new provisions. Not one single example.
House Republicans are committed to ensuring the integrity of Iowa’s election system and eliminating voter fraud in every circumstance possible. Iowa will have greater election integrity because of the hard work put forth by House Republicans.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.