Guest Columnist

Be 'voter ready' for Tuesday's primary

A sign informs voters about upcoming voter ID changes. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A sign informs voters about upcoming voter ID changes. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

My goals are for every eligible Iowan to register to vote, have a required form of identification, and participate in our elections. Voting is about making your voice heard. The United States of America is the greatest and freest country in the world because we give the power to the people to determine our leaders and our representative form of government. That power belongs to you. Embrace it, by voting.

I strongly believe primary elections are just as important as the general elections in November. Voters often express discontentment with their options on the general election ballot. That is why participating in the primary is so important. There are more options available.

It is important to be voter ready for Tuesday’s primary elections. This year is a soft rollout for Iowa’s new voter ID provisions. That means precinct election officials are required to ask every voter for a form of identification. However, a voter who does not possess an ID card can sign an oath swearing to their identity, and will be able to cast a regular ballot.

Bringing your ID to the polls will expedite the process for you, the poll workers, and the other Iowans who are there to cast their ballots. It is also good preparation for when voter ID requirements take full effect in 2019.

Acceptable forms of identification include a valid Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID, U.S. veteran or U.S. military ID, a U.S. passport, or a Voter ID PIN Card. In December, my office mailed 123,000 Voter ID PIN Cards to every registered voter in Iowa who did not already possess a valid Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s ID. Since then, county auditors have mailed Voter ID PIN Cards to every newly registered voter who does not already possess one of those forms of ID.

If you are not registered to vote in your county, Election Day registration remains an option. You will need to bring a valid photo ID and proof of residency, such as a lease or a utility bill. A law I authored and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a few weeks ago allows the proof of residency to be in electronic form, such as an attachment in an email on your phone.

I believe it should be easy to vote, but hard to cheat. These new requirements accomplish that goal. Iowa is one the few states that offers Election Day voter registration, online voter registration, no-fault absentee voting, and early voting. No eligible voter will be turned away from the polls.

Make your voice heard Tuesday. Be a voter.

l Paul Pate is Iowa’s secretary of state.

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