New voter ID law starts phasing in

Some changes start July 1, bigger ones in year ahead

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A new page on the Iowa Secretary of State website launched last week to guide people through changes to the state’s voting system approved earlier this year by the Legislature.

“The page provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the new laws and outlines when they will be implemented,” according to a statement from Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office.

The page can be accessed through the secretary of state’s website, or sos.iowa.gov/voterID.

The measure, passed by the GOP-controlled Statehouse, is controversial. Republicans said the changes are necessary to prevent fraud. Democrats and others argued the measures in reality suppress votes by creating barriers for the poor, elderly, people with disabilities and minorities.

Under the new law, voters won’t be asked to present identification at the polls until Jan. 1.

But some changes start July 1, including:

l Voters not registered in the precinct where they live must provide proof of residence and ID when they vote;

l Someone vouching for a person registering and voting on the same day must show an ID to verify he or she lives where the new voter is casting a ballot;

l Voters who register and vote on Election Day at polling places that do not have electronic poll books will cast provisional ballots instead.

Beginning early in December, Pate’s office will mail state-issued voter ID cards to every registered voter without an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s ID.

January will mark the “soft rollout” of the voter ID policy. Any voter without proper ID in 2018 will sign an oath attesting he or she is an eligible voter in the precinct and will be permitted to vote.

But starting Jan. 1, 2019, voters will be required to show a driver’s license, non-operator’s ID, passport, military ID or voter identification card at the polls.

According to Pate’s statement, no eligible voter will be turned away. Any Iowan without an ID can have another eligible voter attest to his or her identity or cast a provisional ballot.

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