Iowa elections are watched throughout the country thanks to our first-in-the-nation caucuses. Politics have always played an important role here and the election process has been something in which Iowans take pride. That does not mean the system is without flaws. I know voters recognize the value of having a fair and protected election system in place that allows citizens to cast their ballot without worry. I also recognize that the state election process has room for improvement in order to provide a more secure voting process. Elections may be won or lost by one vote and preventing voter fraud is very important.
This week, legislation was filed that would require a person to provide proof of identity on Election Day to a precinct election official before being allowed to vote. A person wishing to vote absentee at the county commissioner of elections office or satellite absentee voting station would be required to present photo identification as well.
This legislation would provide voters more than a photo ID option. It would allow voters to bring someone with a photo ID on Election Day to attest to their identity. The bill also allows students to use their school ID as long as it has an expiration date. Voters may vote provisionally on Election Day if they do not have the proper documentation. The person casting a provisional ballot will receive a statement of validity and an acceptable form of identification must be presented before the ballot is counted. The bill maintains current law allowing a person to register to vote on Election Day or in person when voting absentee to establish proof of identity and proof of residency.
Other states recognize the need to protect and enhance the voting process by securing it. Currently 31 states have some sort of voter ID requirement and 15 of those states require photo ID.
The new voter ID measures are meant to provide Iowans with greater confidence in casting their vote. Voter fraud in Iowa is a growing concern as non-citizens in Council Bluffs were recently arrested for voter fraud after casting votes when they were not eligible to do so. This is just one example of the current abuse of this all-important system. If ineligible voters were able to cast their ballots in an election skewing results and damaging the integrity of the system, it clearly needs to be fixed.
I am committed to strengthening our election process and providing Iowans a protected voting system where every vote counts. The introduction of this bill is a common sense solution to a problem. I feel that any amount of voter fraud is unacceptable. The voting process in Iowa is too important to not have a voter ID measure in place.
State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) represents Iowa Senate District 20.
Photo by Phil Roeder (CC by 3.0)