December 22, 2014

Another attempt at requiring photo ID for voting in Iowa

REAL-ID-minorHouse Republicans are again trying to pass a law that would require all voters to show a photo I.D. and they tout a recent Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” which found 71 percent of those surveyed back the concept.

Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, says a photo I.D. wouldn’t just have to be a driver’s license.

“It’s issued by a government body, a university, public or private, or a high school,” she says.

Previous attempts have called for driver’s licenses or DOT issued ID cards to be used, but had NOT allowed student IDs since some Republicans object to students voting in their college town rather than their home town.

Critics of requiring voters to show identification say there’s no evidence of rampant voter fraud in Iowa. Marty Ryan, a lobbyist who focuses on civil liberties issues, says the state could be sued if precinct workers don’t check every single ID.

“So in other words, if I’m a precinct election official and I’m watching people come in to vote, I have to ask my spouse who I see every day for identification,” Ryan says, “…sons, daughters, mothers-in-law, neighbors who don’t want to reveal their age.”

Ryan was among those who spoke out against the proposal during a House subcommittee hearing late Tuesday afternoon. Retired Des Moines school teacher Cherie Mortice is a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that’s opposed to the bill.

“I don’t see any hard evidence or data supporting the idea that voter fraud is a problem in the state of Iowa and a proposal to spend millions of dollars on a non-existent problem is irresponsible,” Mortice said.

Mortice and others argued the state will have to shell out the money to provide photo ID’s to Iowans who are elderly and don’t drive a car or who are too poor to own a car.

The Republican-led Iowa House tried to pass a voter I.D. requirement in 2011, but the Democratically controlled Iowa Senate didn’t consider it. The partisan divide at the statehouse is identical this year, so the bill’s not likely to become law.