Voter Integrity Laws Raise Questions

There are new laws on the books that double check the identity of voters coming to the polls today. Some are calling the rules harsh while others say that the rules assist in alleviating voter fraud. Some questions have arisen amongst voters which have been answered by Secretary of State Paul Pate’s Office.

When do voters have to start showing ID at the polls? During calendar year 2018 voters will be asked to show their ID before voting at the polls, but it is not required. Anyone who does not have the necessary ID will be asked to sign an oath verifying their identity, and will be allowed to cast a regular ballot. Beginning January 1, 2019, Iowa voters will be required to show a driver’s license, non-driver’s ID, passport, military ID, veterans ID, or Voter ID Card at the polls before they vote.

What about voters who don’t have an ID? Any registered voter who does not have an ID issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation will be issued a Voter ID Card for free, automatically, in the mail. This also applies to anyone who registers to vote in the future. Upon receipt of the Voter ID Card in the mail, it should be immediately signed and placed in the voter’s purse or wallet and taken with them to vote. Obtaining the Voter ID Card does not require any documentation; voters simply need to be registered.

Is ID required for absentee ballots? YES. Beginning January 1, 2018, voters requesting absentee ballots will be required to include their driver’s license/non-driver’s ID numbers on their request form. Voters receiving the Voter ID Card will be required to include their card’s PIN number on the absentee ballot request form.

How does this law affect voter registration? It doesn’t. This law does not affect Iowa’s voter registration process. There are still multiple ways to register to vote, including at the polls on Election Day and online. Voters registering on Election Day will still need to bring a picture ID and proof of residency in the precinct, like a utility bill. These voters will still be allowed to immediately cast a ballot. This has not been changed from previous elections

How does the signature verification provision work at the polls?: This new law enables precinct election officials to challenge a voter if they believe the signature on the ID does not match the voter’s signature. Poll workers will be instructed to NOT reject a ballot based solely on signatures not matching, and to take into account all of the information presented to them.

How does the signature verification provision work on absentee ballots?: This new law enables county auditors to return an absentee ballot request or to reject an absentee ballot if they believe the signature on the request form or the voter affidavit is not the voter’s signature. This provision was one of the recommendations from the county auditors’ bipartisan task force on voter ID.

What will be the impact on college students? NONE. The Election Integrity Act does not create any obstacles for college students to vote. They can register to vote using all the registration opportunities presently available, including online or at the polls on Election Day. Iowa law that was already in place requires Election Day registrants to show proof of identification and proof of residency; which may include college ID cards IF the cards include a photo and expiration date. If college students do not have an Iowa ID, all they have to do is register to vote before election day and they will be provided a Voter ID Card for free, automatically.

How do the Electronic Poll Books work? The goal is to install electronic poll books in every precinct in the state. These will make the voter check-in process quicker and more efficient, reduce the potential for human error, and streamline the system statewide. 72 of Iowa’s 99 counties currently use them. Officials on both sides of the aisle and voting rights groups have advocated for full implementation of electronic poll books for the past few years.

Who is adversely impacted by this law? NO ONE. Every Iowan will be treated exactly the same. Every Iowan who does not possess an ID will be provided one, for free, automatically.

What if I lose my ID or forget to take it to the polls? No eligible voter will be turned away. Voters who do not have an ID can have someone attest to their identity or can cast a provisional ballot.

What are provisional ballots and how do they work? Provisional ballots provide a way for voters to cast their ballots on Election Day if there is a question about their eligibility to vote. Voters will be offered a provisional ballot if the voter requested an absentee ballot, if the voter does not provide ID when required, or if the voter is challenged by another registered voter. Provisional ballots are sealed in a secure envelope after the voter has marked the ballot. The ballot envelope is reviewed later by the absentee board. Provisional voters receive a notice on election day with information about the reason for the challenge and whether they need to provide additional information regarding their eligibility. All voters registering and voting on election day in precincts without electronic pollbooks will cast provisional ballots. These ballots will be counted, unless the voter’s name appears on the felon database list.

Why voter ID? The security of our elections should never be taken for granted. Secretary Pate has long supported voter ID and a DM Register poll in February 2017 showed 69% of Iowans, including 71% of independents and 48% of Democrats, support mandatory voter ID.