Letter to the Editor

Got integrity?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

It was a picture of things to come as the Iowa Senate approved a voter identification plan aimed at protecting the "integrity" of future elections.

Debating along party lines, and then voting 26-21 the same way, senators bounced HF 516 back to the House with changes that include shortening the voting period by 11 days; specifying the forms of ID that voters must present at the polls before receiving a ballot; and eliminating straight party voting.

Forms of ID are an Iowa driver's license, an Iowa non-operator's ID card, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military or veterans ID card or a state-issued voter ID card.

Final details of the legislation await further consideration of the bill by the Iowa House, where it will receive another round of partisan, or near-partisan, rendering.
In my view, and that of many who contacted me, the bill is unnecessary. I voted against the bill. What problem are we trying to fix? Even the state's top election chief, Secretary of State Paul Pate, has praised the trustworthiness of Iowa's election laws. Some 1.6 million votes were cast in the state in 2016, and only a handful of potentially improper ballots cast.
All Republicans supported the measure, saying it will make elections even cleaner. Opponents argued that the legislation will lead to longer wait times and longer lines at polling places, suppress turnout and cost precious tax dollars (up to $1 million just to begin) at a time that budgets are being cut because of a decline in revenues.
Note to our election workers: We value your dedication to serving for long hours with low pay. My experience has always been that you make it easy to vote. Thank you!
A footnote from the debate floor:
Attached to each bill on the legislative website are the "lobbyists declarations." At the state Capitol, lobbyists register for, against or neutral on each bill. Those opposed included the Iowa State Association of Counties, League of Women Voters of Iowa, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, state unions, Interfaith Alliance and Linn County Board of Supervisors.
Only one organization was registered in favor of the "Voter Integrity" law: the Iowa Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
I'm scratching my head, too.
Thank you for the honor to be your voice at the state Capitol.