Monday, July 9, 2018

Arguments Presented in IA Voter ID Lawsuit

Petitioners challenging Iowa’s Voter ID Law were in Polk County District Court Friday, urging a District Judge to Temporarily Halt Enforcement of Parts of the Law.

Iowa’s Voter ID Law, which was passed last year and is in a “soft rollout” phase, is facing a Lawsuit days before the June 5th Primary Election. A Latino civil rights group and an ISU Student said they are Suing Secretary of State Paul Pate because the voter ID law is “burdensome and irrational.” Pate said in an emailed statement the Lawsuit is “baseless and politically motivated,” and his Office has asked the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for Feedback on Voter Education Initiatives.

Early Voting began for the June 5th Primary Elections for Iowa Governor, U.S. Representatives, and other Offices. It marks the First Statewide use of Iowa’s New Voter ID Law, which was signed into Law in 2017. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says if Voters Register by May 25th, they don’t need an ID to Vote In-Person. “So you can sign an oath of identity saying, ‘I’m Joe Voter, I’m in the pre-registration book. I either don’t have my ID or I prefer not to give it.’ For 2018, that’s an option for everybody,” Fitzgerald says.

On Friday, Lawyers for the Plaintiffs argued for a Temporary Injunction to Stop the Parts of the Law that are Already in Effect dealing with Absentee Ballots. Ames Resident Taylor Blair and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa are Suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over the Law. "There's a huge potential for disenfranchisement." said Atty. Bruce Spiva.

Under the Law, Voters must present Identification Numbers when they request an Absentee Ballot; the Window for Absentee Balloting is Shorter; and Election Officials can Throw Out Absentee Ballots if they judge that Signatures don’t match. Spiva is a Lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based firm Perkins Coie which is representing the Plaintiffs. He says the Iowa Supreme Court has consistently ruled Voting is a Fundamental Right. “Even provisions that create a modest restriction on the right to vote the state must articulate real reasons why,” Spiva argued.

If the Absentee Ballot is Rejected during the last days before an Election, the Voter would have No Opportunity to Challenge the Decision. “There’s a huge potential for disenfranchisement,” Spiva said. Spiva cited Statistics showing Democratic Voters use Absentee Ballots more than Republicans. “So even a random rejection of absentee ballots will skew the election against Democratic voters,” Spiva said.

Assistant Attorney General Tom Ogden Defended the New Law. “The changes to Iowa's absentee voting process do not unduly burden the right to vote because no-excuse absentee voting which Iowa provides is not constitutionally required to begin with,” Ogden said. “Nothing that we're talking about here, affects any Iowan's ability to walk into the polls on election day and vote,” Ogden added. Ogden told the Judge that Voting Rules are Policy Decisions that are up to the Legislature. But the Plaintiff’s Attorney said that’s Not True when the Fundamental Right to Vote is at Stake.

Solicitor General Jeff Thompson, also Representing the State, wants the Entire Lawsuit speeded up so it can be settled before the Fall Election.
“To get a decision this summer so we could have it ready for the Supreme Court when they show up again in September,” Thompson said. “We think it’s in the public interest to have certainty well in advance of the general election.”

District Judge Karen Romano promised to Issue a Ruling on the Injunction “as soon as I can.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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