Fact Check

Fact Checker: Kaufmann's claims about voter ID bill

Deputy Warden Mark Roberts (from left), Iowa Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-73), and Iowa Senator Kevin Kinney (D-39) talk during a tour for Iowa legislators at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison on Friday, January 23, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Deputy Warden Mark Roberts (from left), Iowa Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-73), and Iowa Senator Kevin Kinney (D-39) talk during a tour for Iowa legislators at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison on Friday, January 23, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)


“When Democrats controlled the governorship and Legislature (2007-2010), they enacted a photo identification law that still is on the books. Democrats enacted same-day registration in Iowa and required an ID be shown.”

“The fact of the matter is that 41 felons voted in Iowa in 2016 that should not have.”

Source of claim: Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, made the statements in his March 13 Your Capitol Voice column.


Kaufmann’s column was supporting House File 516, which would require people to show identification before voting, eliminate straight-ticket voting and provide postelection audits. The Republican-proposed bill passed the House and still is alive in the Senate.

Although Democrats have said the legislation is an attempt to make it harder for minorities and the elderly to vote, Kaufmann says there already is a voter ID law on the books. And he’s right.

The then-Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2007 passed the Election Day registration bill allowing same-day voter registration. Otherwise, the voter registration cutoff is 10 days before a general election.

As part of the legislation, same-day registrants are required to complete an application and show photo identification that could include a valid driver’s license, passport, military ID, employer ID or student ID. If the ID doesn’t have a current address, registrants may bring a piece of mail, paycheck or other government document confirming the address.


However, the bill waived ID requirements if another registered voter from the precinct signed an affidavit saying the registrant lives in the precinct.

Kaufmann’s second claim relates to whether Iowa needs a voter ID law. Opponents have said Iowa has relatively few cases of voter fraud and doesn’t need a law estimated to cost up to $1 million. Kaufmann says there were 41 cases of felons voting in 2016. Iowa is one of just three states in the nation that gives felons a lifetime voting ban, affirmed by the Iowa Supreme Court last summer.

Kaufmann did not respond to a request for sourcing of this information, but Kevin Hall, spokesman for the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, confirmed Iowa County auditors reported 48 felons cast ballots in the 2016 general election. Of those, 36 cast provisional ballots, which is what pollworkers were advised to recommend if a felon didn’t know whether his or her voting rights had been restored. Felons may apply to have rights restored after completing their sentences and paying fines, court costs and restitution.

None of the 36 provision ballots cast by felons were counted. Twelve felons who voted on Election Day were wrongly counted, Hall said.

“This is incomplete information and county auditors are not required to report irregularities to the Secretary of State’s Office, so the actual numbers could be higher,” Hall added.

Overall, 1.58 million Iowans voted in the 2016 general election.

Few, if any, of the felons who cast ballots were charged with voter fraud.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety told The Gazette Jan. 11 that 28 people had been charged with election misconduct in Iowa from Jan. 1, 2012, through Jan. 9, 2017. Only 23 people were convicted of election misconduct in Iowa from 2012 through 2016, according to data extracted from the judicial branch’s Iowa Court Information System by the Criminal & Juvenile Justice Planning division of the Iowa Department of Human Rights.


Kaufmann’s rebuttal of Democrats’ digs at the voter ID bill is mostly accurate. However, he says the same-day registration law passed in 2007 “required an ID be shown.” That’s not strictly true, considering the law allowed a neighbor’s signed affidavit to stand in for a photo ID.


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Although Kaufmann is correct at least 41 felons cast ballots last fall, nearly all of those signed provisional ballots that were ultimately rejected. That’s the way the system is supposed to work to prevent voter fraud.

Overall, we give Kaufmann a B.


The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/office holder or a national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advertisements that appear in our market. Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

l This Fact Checker was researched and written by Erin Jordan.



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