Friday, March 10, 2017

Iowa House GOP Passes Voter ID Bill

The Iowa Republican-controlled House on Thursday approved a Voter Identification Bill, House File 516, despite criticism from Democrats that the measure would Suppress Voter Turnout among Minorities, the Elderly, and the Disabled.

The Bill by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate would make several changes to Iowa's Elections system, though most attention has been on a requirement that Voters show Approved ID at the Polls. The measure is opposed by Advocates for easier Voting Requirements such as the League of Women Voters of Iowa and Elections Officials including the Iowa State Association of County Auditors.

House File 516, An Act relating to the Conduct and Administration of Elections:

1. Voter Registration, Absentee Voting.

2. Voter Identity Verification, Signature Verification.

3. Polling place Prohibitions, Commissioner Duties, and Certifications.

4. Voter Misconduct Information and Reporting, Straight Party Voting.

5. Post-Election Audits.

6. Polling Place Technology, Creating an Electronic Poll Book.

7. Providing Penalties.

8. Effective Date of Bill and Applicability Provisions.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 States had Laws in 2016 requesting or requiring Voters to show Identification at the Polls.

Republican Lawmakers have for years supported Identification at Polling places, saying it's needed to fight improper Voting despite the rarity of Voter Fraud.

"Iowans agree with this bill," said Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Marion and the Bill's Floor Manager. "They understand that if you have to show an ID to board a plane, cash a check, get welfare benefits, buy Sudafed, that it makes sense that you ought to show an ID in order to protect one of our most precious Constitutional rights."

The Bill would require people to show one of several forms of acceptable Identification at Election Polls. They include an Iowa Driver's License, a State ID, a U.S. Passport or a Military-related ID. The Bill does not mandate a Photo component, since people without a State Driver's License or State ID are expected to receive a Free Identification Card.

Other Provisions would eliminate Straight-Party Voting and allow Polling Staff to use a Voter's Signature on an ID Card to determine whether the Voter is the person depicted on the ID Card.

Democrats spent most of the Floor Debate, which began Wednesday and lasted until nearly midnight, arguing about the Bill's impact on Voter turnout. They said the measure would disproportionately affect Minorities and make it harder for them to Vote.

Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf, also challenged Republican Lawmakers, who Control the Legislature and Governor's Seat, on whether voter Fraud is a problem in Iowa.

"If you won from the top all the way down, who are you going after?" she asked. "Help me understand this. Where is there fraud?"

There are about 2 million active, Registered Voters in Iowa. About 1.6 million, or 79%, of that group voted in the 2016 Election, according to data available through the Non-Partisan Legislative Services Agency.

The Secretary of State said there was only 10 potentially Improper Votes in 2016, according to Public Documents disclosed in an Associated Press Open Records request.

Republicans used a rare Procedural move to end Debate and force a Vote on the Bill.

Lawmakers voted 59-40 along Party lines for the Bill. One Democrat said she Voted by accident for the Bill, and had requested a change in the Chamber's records.

Pate on Thursday applauded the Vote, and continued to defend his Bill against any allegations of possible Voter Disenfranchisement. He said he wants the State to preserve High Voter turnout. "I want to make this clear: No eligible voter will be denied their right to vote by this legislation," he said in a statement. "I am adamant about that fact and will fight to ensure voters are not disenfranchised."

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where there is also support among Majority Republicans.

What it does not cover is Absentee Ballot processing where most of Voting Fraud occurs.

CLICK HERE to read the Bill.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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