Government

Voters without IDs a small share of primary electorate

Travis Weipert

Johnson County auditor
Travis Weipert Johnson County auditor
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Hundreds of voters in the state’s most populous counties signed oaths attesting to their identities rather than offer a state-approved ID in order to cast a ballot in Iowa’s June 5 primary elections.

While only a small share of the overall turnout, the numbers provide a glimpse into how many Iowa voters were required to take that extra step as the state’s new voter ID law began for the first time to roll out.

Iowa voters now must present a state-approved form of identification when voting. That law was passed in 2017 by Republican state lawmakers and is being rolled out gradually until 2019.

During a soft rollout for the primary elections, Iowa voters without an approved form of ID could vote if they signed an oath and affidavit to confirm their identity.

On Election Day, according to county auditors:

l 118 affidavits were signed at the polls in Scott County (Davenport area).

l 76 in Black Hawk County (Waterloo area).

l 47 in Cerro Gordo County (Mason City area).

l 41 in Woodbury County (Sioux City area).

l And 82 in Linn County, although that number tracked affidavits signed under only one of the county’s two voting systems. The other did not track signed affidavits.

Johnson and Polk counties did not track the number of signed affidavits, auditors said. But the number of signed affidavits represents only a tiny share of the ballots cast in those counties.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who oversees the state’s elections and proposed the new voter ID law, declared the rollout a success.

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“Iowans set a record for early voting in a primary election, and we continue to break records for voter registration. I’m thrilled to see so many people in our state engaged in the process,” Pate said in a statement.

“The reports we received from across the state showed that voters, poll workers and county auditors were ready for the new voter ID requirements. Overall, the June primary went smoothly.”

Pate said his office will work with all 99 county auditors in advance of the November general election, during which the soft rollout will continue.

But in 2019, voters who fail to provide sufficient identification will complete a provisional ballot that will be counted later — and only after the voter provides an approved form of identification.

Auditors said there were some complaints from voters about the ID requirement, and the need to read aloud personal information during the verification process, despite the use of an ID.

In some instances, poll workers were unsure if the form of identification presented was sufficient under the new law.

In addition, some voters wouldn’t present an approved ID and signed the oath and affidavit instead to protest the new law, auditors said.

“We did have some upset voters,” said Travis Weipert, Johnson County auditor and president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors. “A lot of people continued to say, ‘It’s my constitutional right to vote. I shouldn’t have to show my ID and answer a lot of questions.’ ”

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The new process slowed some lines of voters, Weipert said, adding he is concerned that may have dissuaded people from voting.

He also expressed concern for the November general election when more college students — who also need to show proof of residency if presenting an out-of-state driver’s license — are more likely to vote.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz voiced similar concerns.

“There will be a lot more people and a lot more scenarios,” Moritz told Scott County supervisors during a postelection meeting, the Quad-City Times reported.

The new ID law requires Iowa voters to present an Iowa driver’s license or nonoperator ID, or a U.S. passport or military ID. Iowa Voter ID PIN cards were created and sent to Iowans without a driver’s or nonoperator’s license, and also are an acceptable form of ID.

Supporters of the new law said it was created to ensure integrity in elections and to modernize the state’s voting system.

Opponents, mainly Democrats and voting rights groups, said the law will cause fewer people to vote because of the additional identification requirement.

Pate said security and participation are not mutually exclusive, and voting laws can be strict enough to protect election integrity while flexible enough to encourage citizens to vote.

Mitchell Schmidt of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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

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