After nearly 12 hours of debate over two days, Republicans in the Iowa House have passed a bill they say will “restore confidence” in Iowa’s election results.
Representative Ken Rizer, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, said the new voter ID requirements will make the vote more secure.
“When someone casts a vote, we need to make sure they meet the constitutional criteria of being a US citizen, being an Iowa resident and they are who they say they are,” Rizer said to close the debate at about 11:30 this morning. “This is common sense and Iowans get it.”
Democrats, meanwhile, say elderly, disabled and minorities will be confused and discouraged from voting by the requirement to show a government-issued I-D at the polls on Election Day. Shortly before midnight last night, Representative Amy Nielsen of North Liberty called the bill “disgusting.”
“I hope everyone’s listening,” Nielsen said. “I know I’m not exactly thrilled to be here tonight, but when I see injustice done, I’m willing to go to the mat.”
Late last night, Democrat Todd Pritchard of Charles City and Rizer quarrelled on the House floor when Pritchard compared the bill to old voting rules in the south designed to prevent African Americans from voting.
“How is this different from Jim Crowe?” Pritchard asked and Rizer called that “an offensive question.”
Pritchard said: “I think this bill is going to suppress voter participation in our democracy.”
Rizer replied: “I don’t see how this bill suppresses anybody.”
This morning, Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, said he rejects the suggestion the bill will disenfranchise anyone.
“I feel like it is most unfortunate that the debate seems to have degraded into how we can divide Iowans, when everything in this bill applied to all Iowans equally,” Holt said.
Bill supporters promise the state will spend $150,000 to provide new voter registration cards to the 85-thousand Iowans who do not have a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport. The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate, where Republicans who control the debate agenda say the bill is a priority.
Democrats in the House complained this morning that Republicans were had “gagged” criticism of the bill by using a parliamentary procedure to cut off debate and force immediate votes on all the amendments Democrats had proposed, then move to quickly hold a vote on the bill itself.