Iowa Secretary of State unveils voter identification proposal

But Schultz admits he doesn't know if bill will get bipartisan support

Cedar Rapids native LaVista Hickok votes at Washington High School on the morning of Tuesday, November 8. (Dallas Houtz/
Cedar Rapids native LaVista Hickok votes at Washington High School on the morning of Tuesday, November 8. (Dallas Houtz/The Gazette)

UPDATE: Secretary of State Matt Schultz proposed a two-year rollout of a new voter identification program Thursday that would require most voters to show valid photo identification before they can vote.

Schultz said his voter identification plan was drawn up after he had bipartisan input from county auditors and after visiting the state’s 99 counties.

But Schultz acknowledged he didn’t know if he’d have bipartisan support for his bill.

“We want voter integrity, we do not want people cheating,” Schultz, a Republican, said during a Statehouse news conference.

He said his bill is an improvement over last year’s voter identification bill because it better addresses concerns about students, the elderly and the indigent. Last year the Republican-controlled House passed a voter identification measure, but it never made it out of the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Schultz’s proposal allows people to vote if they don’t have photo identification if they have someone — who has a photo identification card — attest to the identity of the person who doesn’t have one.

The new proposal also allows students to use school identification cards as long as the card has an expiration date. If approved, voters in this November’s election would get a flier saying that for the next election, they will be required to show photo identification to vote. It also would list the types of acceptable identification.

Schultz said the plan should cost less than the $300,000 estimate for education and rollout of last year’s House bill because it’s being spread over two years. However, he didn’t have a specific dollar figure.

“Never in that half-hour did he say anything about a problem with voter fraud,” said Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Iowa chapter, who attended the news conference.

“Some say ‘Well you have to show identification to get on a plane,’” Stone continued. “People have a constitutional right to vote, they don’t have a constitutional right to get on a plane.”

If the measure passes, Iowa would join 31 other states that have some type of voter identification requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen of those states require photo identification or will by the 2012 general election.

Schultz said he hoped his proposal would get bipartisan support, but legislative leaders seemed lukewarm to the idea Thursday.

“My hope would be that the Senate would pick up the voter ID bill we passed last year and if the Secretary or the senators have any improvement to that, they should amend it and send it back,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, suggested the Republicans start with their own party.“I would say to Secretary Schultz, if it’s such a good idea and so important to protect the security of the electoral process, how come he didn’t get the Republican Party of Iowa to use it for the caucuses?” he said.

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