KWWL investigates claims of voter intimidation in Dubuque
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Reports of "voter intimidation" and overly-zealous ID checking by non election officials at one Dubuque precinct led KWWL to investigate.
The truth is not as extreme as all that, but some students did meet a challenge when trying to vote on Tuesday.
University of Dubuque freshman Danny Francis and his friends voted in their very first experience.
"It was life changing, I guess you could say," University of Dubuque freshman Christina Robinson said. "I mean, you've always heard about turning 18 and voting and stuff, but now it's actually here."
Francis is from Illinois but registered - on election day - to vote in the state of Iowa.
"I went and got...the register stuff, and then the mailing wasn't the right thing because it was from my mom," Francis said.
He had the valid photo ID but a care package from his mom didn't legally cut it as proof of residency.
At Dubuque's ninth and tenth precincts' polling place in Westminster Presbyterian Church, hundreds of students came to vote, since the two precincts include Dubuque's three major institutions of higher education: University of Dubuque, Loras College and Clarke University.
At the site, three Republican poll watchers showed up to ensure improper IDs didn't slip through the cracks. These poll watchers were not afraid to challenge the vote of an out-of-state student registering on election day if it seemed the student didn't meet the requirements of valid ID and proof of residency. A successful challenge to a vote renders it a provisional ballot, meaning it won't be counted until further review later this week.
"I haven't heard there are any concerns that there's actually people trying to, you know, fraud the system or anything like that," Dubuque County Republican chairman Dave Cushman said Tuesday night at the Republican Victory Office. "It's just making sure that things are done consistent with the law so that we can all accept that we've had a fair and right election."
Election officials at Dubuque's tenth precinct said they felt poll watchers were a little pushy in their attempts to ensure a fair process.
"There was just concerns about making sure that everything was done, you know, up with the law because we don't want to contaminate a polling site and have votes going in and not having been done correctly," Cushman said.
Three Democratic poll watchers also showed up, saying they were there to help prevent any unnecessary barriers to people legally exercising their right to vote.
It was a sort of grassroots system of checks and balances, with both sides fighting for their version of a fair process.
UD freshman Danny Francis got to vote, by the way. Iowa code allows a registered voter to vouch for somebody's residency in his or her own precinct. Luckily, Francis' friend fit the bill.
Of the more than 1,000 voters at Dubuque's tenth precinct, there were only 16 provisional ballots cast by the time the poll closed at 9 p.m. Between its more than 30 precincts, Dubuque County had approximately 150 provisional ballots.
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