Voter ID bill heads to Iowa Senate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Voter ID bill heads to Iowa Senate

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Legislation that would require Iowa voters to show identification at the polls will now head to the Iowa Senate for discussion. 

Voter ID bill 516 passes the Iowa House, and will now head to the Iowa Senate. 

The bill would make several changes to Iowa's elections system, and includes requiring people to show approved identification to vote. People without a state driver's license are expected to receive a free state-issued card in the mail.

Republicans say the bill will make needed improvements and ensure voter integrity. Democrats say it will suppress voter turnout among minorities, the elderly and the disabled.

State lawmakers got fired up during hours of debate. 

Floyd County Democrat Todd Prichard questioned Marion Republican Ken Rizer.

"Are you familiar with Jim crow?" asked Prichard. "I am," responded Rizer. "How is this different than Jim Crow?" said Prichard. "laughs -- I think that's kind of an offensive question, to tell you the truth," said Rizer. "Well I think this bill has problems. I'd like to know why it's not a suppression bill," said Prichard. "Representative Prichard are you accusing me of trying to pass a Jim Crow law?" asked Rizer. "I think that this bill is going to try to suppress voter participation in our Democracy," said Prichard. 

The bill eventually cleared the House. Representative Rizer addressed one of the biggest concern from Democrats on whether the bill will infringe on voter rights. 

"Those who do not have a government issued ID will get a free government issued voter registration card delivered to their mailbox without any effort on their part whatsoever," said Rizer. "This is not a disparate impact. It is a disproportionate taxpayer funded benefit to ensure that every Iowan whether white, black, hispanic, transgender or anything else will be able to exercise their right to vote."

As the bill heads to the Senate, County auditors including Black Hawk County auditor Grant Veeder are challenging more than what this bill will look like on paper.

"These people are going to have to be aware of the fact that they need to get another form of identification, or get their identification updated in time to vote in the election," said Veeder. "And I think it's going to be a challenge for our office to get the information out there before it's too late."

County auditors from across Iowa are currently in Des Moines at a legislative conference discussing what some of those procedural changes will look like come election day.

Despite questions over whether this will become a burden on local government, Veeder says at the end of the day he will have to follow suit. 

Another concern Veeder expressed was the burden that will eventually be put on poll workers who will be required to check and compare signatures.

Secretary of State Paul Pate says the bills changes will prevent voter fraud. Critics argue voter fraud isn't a problem in the state.

"We've heard again, and again, on this floor that there is no election misconduct in Iowa, so why are we doing this?" asked Rizer. "According to the Secretary of State, 41 felons voted in 2016 who shouldn't have voted. And as we heard in the public hearing, we have had races in the state of Iowa with margins as small as 8 and 13 votes. So that matters."

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. 

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