By Erin Murphy, Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
A leader with the League of Women Voters in Iowa is upset that a Cedar Rapids lawmaker is using her written testimony to help justify a bill that would order changes in the state’s election systems. including requiring an identification card to vote.
Republican Rep. Ken Rizer says a bill under consideration in the Legislature that would add safeguards to Iowa’s election systems, including a voter ID requirement, is necessary in part because many Iowans do not have confidence in clean, fair elections.
There has been no evidence of significant voter fraud in Iowa, and the state generally ranks high nationally in its election operations.
The bill was proposed by Republican Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. To help justify the changes, Rizer has — in multiple media interviews, including with The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau — referenced testimony submitted by a member of the Iowa chapter of the League of Women Voters.
That testimony was submitted by Myrna Loehrlein, president of the Linn County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, and reads in part, “There is a deeply pervasive, gut-level intuition that voter impersonation occurs and may be rampant. This has repeatedly been demonstrated to be untrue, but the perception remains.”
Rizer said that supports his argument the legislation is needed.
Loehrlein, however, said Rizer’s use of her testimony misconstrues the fact the league opposes the bill and its voter ID requirement.
Loehrlein said she agrees there is concern among voters that elections are not clean and fair, but she disagrees that the solution is to impose more rules. She said the rest of her written testimony says the league “is opposed to any unnecessary barrier, including voter ID, that gets between the voter and the ballot.”
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“He’s only representing part of (the testimony), and he’s misrepresenting the league’s position by only representing part of it,” Loehrlein said. “A lot of people are having these conversations (about clean, fair elections). We don’t need to build another barrier. We need to clear up the misconception.”
Rizer said this week it was not his intention to suggest the league supports the bill.
“I was not implying that the League of Women Voters supports this bill,” Rizer said. “I was just saying that they reinforced the idea that there is a voter confidence problem.”
But Loehrlein said even that misconstrues the league’s perspective.
“That’s not true. We never said there is a problem with voter confidence,” Loehrlein said. “We have said there is a perception of voter impersonation. But we have never said that Iowans are not confident in our election system.”
The legislation has passed the House and now is eligible for consideration by the Senate.