Tweaks to Iowa voter ID law bring praise

Pate: 'Easy to vote, but hard to cheat'

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DES MOINES — Although they remain dismayed by Iowa’s new voter identification law, groups that advocate for voters’ rights said Monday they are encouraged by tweaks being considered by state officials.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office on Monday held a public hearing on proposed rules designed to implement the new law, which requires Iowa residents to present personal identification in order to vote.

State officials said consideration is being given to changing a proposed rule that voting rights organizations were concerned would make it more difficult for non-government groups to conduct voter registration drives, and another that would allow workers at the ballot to disqualify a prospective voter if his or her signature appears to have changed.

“I appreciate the public’s feedback and everyone’s comments regarding the rule-making process for the Electronic Modernization and Integrity Act,” Secretary of State Paul Pate said in a statement. Pate did not attend Monday’s public hearing. “We are actively considering all public comments. It is my goal to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. That is what this law accomplishes.”

Eight voting rights groups signed a petition encouraging the Secretary of State’s office to make those and other changes to rules for the new law.

Speakers representing Iowa chapters of the League of Women Voters, ACLU and NAACP said they are pleased with the potential changes, even though they remain opposed to the overall law, which was passed during the 2017 legislative session and signed into law by former Gov. Terry Branstad.

“It’s good to hear that they’re rethinking the part of the rules that affect non-governmental agencies,” said Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa and Nebraska chapter of the NAACP.

“But certainly the challenge is, still, the fact that we have voter ID, first of all, but also the concerns that it raises among Iowa citizens in terms of can they or can they not vote,” she said. “And people are still not clear about that.”

State officials said they expect to complete their work on the new and possibly revised rules by the end of the week before forwarding to a legislative committee for review.

l Comments: (515) 422-9061; erin.murphy@lee.net

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