A House committee voted Tuesday in favor of allowing voters to register at the polls on the day of an election. Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, says the measure could boost voter turnout.
Wessel-Kroeschell says: "Making voter registration easy and convenient is an effective way to increase civic participation. In fact, voter turnout in the seven states that allow election day registration is consistently 10 percent higher than in states that don’t permit it." Iowa now requires voters to register 10 days before an election to be eligible to vote.
Wessel-Kroeschell says most voters "tune in" as election day nears. She says ending the registration 10 days before an election "cuts of the opportunity for some individuals to participate just when a race is getting the most interest from a voter."
Representative Libby Jacobs, a Republican from West Des Moines, says she’s worried same day registration would corrupt the system.Jacobs says there are no safeguards to prevent someone from committing voter fraud by going around and registering at several locations. Wessell-Kroeschell says Jacob’s argument is a "Red Herring" as she says most votes would not be willing to risk the five-year prison sentence and 75-hundred dollar fine to vote multiple times.
Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, says he teaches his students at Muscatine Community College that voting should be an effort not a whim. Kauffman says same day registration flies in the face of that.
"I’ve never found the registration requirements we have right now to be inhibitive," Kaufmann says, "In fact if anything it lends itself to other lectures that I make to these students about democracy being incumbent on responsibility, and the responsibility to register. Making sure their vote is based on an effort not a last minute whim." The bill passed the House committee 12-8 and now goes to the full House.