Staff Editorial

Voter ID still key issue in secretary race

A woman votes in precinct 24 at Bethany Lutheran Church in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa in this file photo. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A woman votes in precinct 24 at Bethany Lutheran Church in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa in this file photo. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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In a political season mired by confusion over voting requirements, Iowa is ready for a new election chief.

Deidre DeJear, the Democratic challenger in this year’s secretary of state race, exhibits an inspiring passion for voter engagement. She helped lead former President Barack Obama’s Iowa turnout efforts in 2012, helping register thousands of new voters, then going on to organize successful school board campaigns. She’s running to help make our elections secure and accessible to all Iowans.

Incumbent Republican Paul Pate has made important progress on several issues. That includes increasing the availability of online business filings, supporting cybersecurity protections in all 99 counties and championing a new program to conceal violent crime victims’ home addresses. We also found plenty to like about Jules Ofenbakh, the Libertarian Party candidate.

DeJear stood apart for her impressive background with businesses and nonprofits, and her good ideas for expanding on some of Pate’s successes. For us, the difference between the two leading candidates came down to Pate’s support of Iowa’s voter ID law, which The Gazette editorial board has consistently opposed.

We acknowledge and appreciate Pate has taken steps to limit the negative impacts of the voter ID requirement, and thanks in part to him, Iowa’s law is less restrictive than in some other states. He successfully encouraged lawmakers to drop a proposed photo requirement for IDs, for example, and he’s working with colleges and universities to make student IDs compliant with the law. As Pate points out, the 2017 voter integrity law was much broader than voter ID, and we agree some provisions are worthwhile.

Nevertheless, we can’t overlook the fact voter ID, a key piece of Pate’s 2014 campaign, never should have been imposed, and has been a mess to implement. We already know of at least one case in a special election this year where someone was denied a ballot due to confusion over the ID requirements.

Voter ID is a legislative matter, and while DeJear opposes the voter ID requirement, she told us she would not focus on lobbying the Legislature. If the next General Assembly considers changing the law, we trust DeJear would give an honest and thorough review of the law’s consequences for Iowans.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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