Iowa Secretary of state kicks off voter education effort

3 steps to new process: Register, bring ID, vote

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate arrives in the House Chamber for the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate arrives in the House Chamber for the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Secretary of State Paul Pate is launching a 99-county “Voter Ready” education effort to prepare Iowans for the soft rollout of the state’s voter identification law that goes into effect this year.

Already, 93 percent of Iowans eligible to vote are registered and 93 percent of them have driver’s licenses, which poll workers will begin asking voters to provide when they cast ballots. A U.S. passport, veterans and military ID, or a voter ID card issued by the Secretary of State Office also can be used as proof of identification.

The Secretary of State Office recently mailed 123,000 voter ID cards to eligible voters who were not included in a state Department of Transportation database of Iowans with driver’s licenses. The office received about 18,000 “return to sender” responses indicating those people have died or moved.

No voters will be turned away if they lack one of the forms of identification included in the law, Pate said. A voter who does not have an ID will be allowed to cast a regular ballot after signing an oath that swears to their identity. Voters also can have another registered voter attest to their identity.

The “Voter Ready” outreach initiative will have Pate traveling around Iowa to talk about the election law changes made by legislators last year. The educational effort, he said, breaks down the process into three simple action steps: register to vote, bring your ID, cast your ballot.

One of the tools for educating the public will be a free, customizable tool kit of the educational materials. The tool kit was put together with feedback from with the League of Women Voters, NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, AARP, Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Iowa, all three political parties, college students, county auditors and others, Pate said.

“I appreciate Secretary Pate and his staff reaching out to groups like ours to provide input on how best to reach Iowa voters,” said Rik Shannon, public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, who joined Pate at a Statehouse news conference Wednesday.

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Groups that want to use the “Voter Ready” tool kits may request them at sos@sos.iowa.gov.

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