Government

Judge to hear arguments on voter ID injunction

Cedar Rapids residents vote early at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. The voting station was setup for the day after undergraduate students at Mount Mercy submitted a petition to the Linn County Auditor’s Office with the 100 signatures required. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids residents vote early at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. The voting station was setup for the day after undergraduate students at Mount Mercy submitted a petition to the Linn County Auditor’s Office with the 100 signatures required. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments next week over an appeal of last month’s temporary injunction barring the state from implementing some provisions of Iowa’s new voter ID law.

The order, filed earlier this week by Chief Justice Mark Cady, calls for a review at 9 a.m. Aug. 9 to hear arguments from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa and the office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

The review aims to determine whether or not to uphold an Iowa judge’s July injunction on the state’s voter ID law, which shortened early voting windows and phased in identification requirements for Iowa voters.

An emergency request for a stay of the order granting the injunction was denied.

That injunction changes three provisions for all Iowa elections in the 2017 voting law:

- The early voting period for the November midterm election was restored from 29 to 40 days.

- Absentee voters are not required to provide an ID number on applications for absentee ballots.

- County auditors are barred from rejecting an absentee ballot if they believe a voter’s signature doesn’t match the signature on record.

Rules for Election Day voting will not change as a result of the injunction. Voters going to the polls Nov. 6 will be asked to provide state-approved identification. Under rules in place for 2018 while the law is being phased in, those without proper ID can sign an oath verifying their identity and still vote.

But starting next year, proper identification will be required for all.

Approved identification includes an Iowa driver’s license, an Iowa non-operator ID card, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID, a U.S. veteran ID or an Iowa voter ID PIN card. Those with an out-of-state license — like college students — can present those IDs but still must have proof of residency.

LULAC’s 2017 lawsuit argued that provisions of House File 516 — signed in May 2017 by former Gov. Terry Branstad as the state’s new voter ID law — impedes Iowa’s voters by imposing unconstitutional restrictions on potential voters.

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On July 25, Polk County District Judge Karen Romano ruled that elements of the state’s new system requiring state-issued voter identification numbers on absentee ballots could harm the rights of voters to participate in elections, “in contravention” of Iowa’s Constitution.

Pate, who appealed the ruling, said in a statement last week “out-of-state dark money and Washington, D.C. lawyers have come into Iowa to try to overturn our election laws.”

“My office has worked diligently with organizations across the state, including the plaintiffs in this case, to inform all Iowans about the provisions of this new law,” Pate added. “The plaintiffs have not shown a single Iowan has been disenfranchised by this bill.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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