Voting reform was the topic of a public hearing last night at the statehouse. Lee Kohl of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers criticized several of the reforms, including the one that would close the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. He says “there is a severe odor to this.”Kohl also criticized the idea of closing voter registration 20 days before the election. He asked why they would limit public participation in a time of declining registration.Several speakers criticized the idea of forcing voters to show a photo I-D in order to get a ballot. Judy Hoffman of the League of Women Voters said elderly Iowans don’t have photo I-Ds. Hoffman says the bill is a step backward, not forward.Polk County Republican chairman Ted Sporer defended the idea of requiring photo I-Ds. Sporer says the photo I-D is necessary to ride an airplane, write checks or receive government benefits. He says it should also be necessary for “the most important duty that an average citizen ever does in a democracy, cast his vote.”Steve Roberts of Des Moines, former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, serves on the Republican National Committee. He supports the photo I-D requirement, saying it’s important that elections have integrity. Roberts says Iowans can look to neighbor Illinois to see what happens when measures aren’t in place to safeguard voting.
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