Iowa’s among states accused of making it too hard to vote in elections, by not properly implementing the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA). The conclusion’s in a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
Attorney Justin Levitt says Iowa’s trying to comply with “HAVA” by creating a statewide registration database One list of voters, for the entire state, which will show all eligible voters so it’s easy to process people at the polls. What Iowa’s doing wrong, he says, is trying to match voters with two other databases, and if they don’t match, the process stops them from voting.
He says that’s a problem because the other databases, and the matching process, are full of mistakes. “There are typos…there are maiden names that might not match up with married names,” Levitt says. He charges that there are little things that fed into databases that have nothing to do with whether a voter’s eligible or not.
Levitt says the Social Security Administration has found that so far 28-point-five-percent, more than one in four voters, aren’t matching. “To stop one in four eligible voters from registering because their information doesn’t match in a database comparison isn’t what the law was intended to do.” Iowa does not allow registration at the polling place, though you can register by mail.
Levitt says federal law says at some point a registering voter does have to prove who they are. They can show a document, a driver’s license, a utility bill, a paycheck — or can be successfully matched to a list, an alternative way for somebody to show they’re who they say they are. But when ONLY a list is used, and there’s no way to check or correct an error, Levitt says that’s when the process is unfairly rigid.
Levitt says “Many, many, many people register at or very close to the voter-registration deadline, and this becomes a big problem when, after the deadline passes, you try and match their information up and it comes back un-matched, through no fault of the voter.” The report cites Nebraska and Oregon as examples of states doing it right, where a voter whose I.D. doesn’t match the database can show various other kinds of proof and be allowed to vote.