Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro is seeking a change in Iowa election law to allow members of the Mesquaki Nation or another other tribe in Iowa to use their federal tribal I.D. card if they’re registering to vote on Election Day.
"That’s what they use as their passport, as their form of identification," Mauro says. Iowa’s "same day" voter registration law allows Iowa residents with a valid photo I.D. to register to vote on Election Day and cast a ballot. But the law requires that I.D. to have an expiration date, and the tribal I.D. has no expiration date.
Mauro issued a 16-page report today that includes detailed data on the balloting that occurred in Iowa this past November. While the 2008 election set a record for the number of votes cast in Iowa, there was a reduction in the number of absentee ballots which were thrown out due to errors.
Mauro says the most common error is a voter who fails to put their signature on the affidavit that accompanies their ballot, but a change in state law allows county election commissioners to check the affidavits, contact the voter and have them come in and sign the envelop. Mauro says it evens things out, as ballot errors on Election Day are easily corrected.
"At the polling place on Election Day if you made a mistake, of course, the ballot comes back to you," Mauro says. "With an absentee, there was no chance for that to happen." While county auditors now have the option to review some absentee materials in advance, the actual ballot isn’t counted until Election Day. More votes were cast in Iowa in 2008 than in 2004, but there were far fewer "provisional" ballots cast by folks who didn’t have an updated voter registration card. Mauro credits same day voter registration for that trend.
"We had almost 46,000 voters who participated by same-day (voter registration) but the interesting number in there is out of that 46,000…over 24,000 were already registered in Iowa in some other county," Mauro says. "And so basically what they were doing is they were, instead having to come in and cast the provisional ballot which would probably not count, they were allowed to register that day and vote and get their ballot cast."
In 2008, there were a third as many provisional ballots cast as there had been in 2004, the previous presidential election year, and all but a thousand of those provisional ballots were counted. Read Mauro’s report online on the Secretary of State’s website .