Voter ID Requirements Begin to Take Effect in Iowa

[Image via Hispanically Speaking News]

In recent months, I’ve had several stories about Iowa’s new voter ID law, which was proposed by Secretary of State Paul Pate back in January and signed into law in May. Now, as the the law begins to take effect as of July 1, the state is taking steps to alert Iowans of the changes. The Cedar Rapids Gazette has more:

A new page on the Iowa Secretary of State website launched last week to guide people through changes to the state’s voting system approved earlier this year by the Legislature.

“The page provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the new laws and outlines when they will be implemented,” according to a statement from Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office.

The page can be accessed through the secretary of state’s website, or sos.iowa.gov/voterID.

The measure, passed by the GOP-controlled Statehouse, is controversial. Republicans said the changes are necessary to prevent fraud. Democrats and others argued the measures in reality suppress votes by creating barriers for the poor, elderly, people with disabilities and minorities.

Under the new law, voters won’t be asked to present identification at the polls until Jan. 1.

Under the law, some ID-related changes changes take effect sooner:

But some changes start July 1, including:

+ Voters not registered in the precinct where they live must provide proof of residence and ID when they vote;

+ Someone vouching for a person registering and voting on the same day must show an ID to verify he or she lives where the new voter is casting a ballot;

+ Voters who register and vote on Election Day at polling places that do not have electronic poll books will cast provisional ballots instead.

One interesting aspect of the law is the proactive effort to put IDs in the hands of voters – which will also allow voters with ID to vouch for others without:

Beginning early in December, Pate’s office will mail state-issued voter ID cards to every registered voter without an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s ID.

January will mark the “soft rollout” of the voter ID policy. Any voter without proper ID in 2018 will sign an oath attesting he or she is an eligible voter in the precinct and will be permitted to vote.

But starting Jan. 1, 2019, voters will be required to show a driver’s license, non-operator’s ID, passport, military ID or voter identification card at the polls.

According to Pate’s statement, no eligible voter will be turned away. Any Iowan without an ID can have another eligible voter attest to his or her identity or cast a provisional ballot.

This should be an interesting rollout on various fronts, with ID requirements phasing in as new IDs are mailed out to Hawkeye State voters. I’ll be curious to see how it all comes together – and if litigation or other efforts end up affecting the state’s plans before the law takes full effect in 2019. Stay tuned …

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