(Des Moines, IA) The Iowa House of Representatives passed HF 516, the Election Integrity and Modernization Act, 59 to 40 on Wednesday morning after debating until almost midnight on Tuesday night.
“I commend the members of the Iowa House that listened to their constituents and voted for the Election Integrity and Modernization Act. Almost 70 percent of Iowans support a voter ID system, including 48 percent of Iowa Democrats. This comprehensive and innovative approach will eliminate the potential for human error and fraud, and secure Iowa’s elections moving forward. It should be easy to vote, but hard to cheat. This bill accomplishes both of those goals,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said in a released statement.
“I want to make this clear: No eligible voter will be denied their right to vote by this legislation. I am adamant about that fact and will fight to ensure voters are not disenfranchised. Iowa is a leader in voter participation and integrity, and this legislation will ensure we maintain that status in the future. I look forward to the Iowa Senate taking up this measure soon and sending it to the governor to sign into law,” Pate added.
This bill accomplishes several things:
- The bill requires a person, while acting on behalf of a political party, a nonparty political organization, or a candidate or committee subject to Iowa’s campaign finance laws, who accepts a completed voter registration form from an applicant to submit the form to the appropriate county commissioner of elections (county auditor) within seven days of receiving the form.
- The bill also provides that if the person accepts a completed voter registration form within three days of a voter registration deadline, the person must submit the form to the appropriate commissioner within 24 hours of accepting the form, and not later than the registration deadline for the next election.
- The bill also makes it a simple misdemeanor to violate any provision of Code chapter 48A, related to voter registration, for which another penalty is not provided. A simple misdemeanor is punishable by confinement for no more than 30 days or a fine of at least $65 but not more than $625 or by both.
- The bill requires county commissioners to cancel the voter registration of a registered voter if the registered voter is not a resident of Iowa or submits jury service-related documentation that indicates that the voter is not a citizen of the United States.
- The bill requires the state registrar of vital statistics to produce and transmit certain lists to the state registrar of voters (secretary of state) without charge.
- The bill changes the time period to apply for an absentee ballot from not more than 70 days before the election to not more than 120 days before the election. The bill further provides that an application received more than 120 days before the election shall be returned to the applicant along with notification of when the applications will be accepted.
- The bill requires that an application for an absentee ballot by any applicant other than a person requesting an absentee ballot pursuant to Code section 53.22 contain the applicant’s voter verification number, defined in the bill as the voter’s identification number assigned by the state commissioner, driver’s license number, or nonoperator’s identification card number. The bill requires this information to be kept confidential.
- The bill also changes the absentee ballot application deadline from the Friday before the election to the same deadline as voter registration for a given election under Code section 48A.9, which is either 11 or 10 days before the election.
- The bill prohibits a voter from voting or offering to vote a ballot in the commissioner’s office that was not furnished to the voter by the commissioner. The bill also prohibits a voter from taking or removing any ballot from the commissioner’s office. Current law expressly prohibits these actions at precinct polling places.
- The bill changes the requirements for establishing identity and residence for persons registering to vote in-person absentee or on election day by adding veterans identification cards issued by the United States to the list of acceptable photographic identification for establishing identity.
- The bill also requires that certain documents required for election day and in-person absentee registration be dated or describe terms of residency current to within 45 days prior to presentation to an election official.
- The bill requires that a person attesting to the identity of a person attempting to register to vote under Code section 48A.7A must present certain identification before signing an oath attesting to the person’s identity.
- The bill requires that persons registering under Code section 48A.7A be verified against a felony database, and requires such persons to vote a provisional ballot if the person’s polling place does not have access to an electronic poll book.
- The bill requires the state registrar of voters to compare lists of voters who registered to vote with the department of transportation’s driver’s license and nonoperator’s identification card files.
- Under the bill, the state registrar is required to issue a free voter registration card on a one-time basis, including a voter identification number, to be used only for voting and voter registration purposes, to registrants whose names do not appear in the department’s files.
- The bill requires that county commissioners of elections issue such cards on an ongoing basis and requires the county commissioners to send certain acknowledgments within 21 days of receiving a completed voter registration form. Under the bill, providing voter registration cards is contingent upon adequate appropriations.
- Under the bill, a registered voter is allowed to attest to the identity and residency of not more than two other voters on election day. If the voter fails to establish the voter’s identity by the methods provided in the bill, the voter may vote a provisional ballot. A voter may also vote a ballot as otherwise provided for under current law by signing an oath attesting to the voter’s identity at any election conducted prior to January 1, 2019.
- The bill also requires that county commissioners include information on the verification of voter identities in the notice of each election published under Code section 49.53.
- The bill requires precinct election officials to examine a voter’s identification to determine whether the person offering to vote matches the identification card, including the voter’s signature.
- The bill requires an election official to challenge a person offering to vote if the person’s identification does not appear to be the person offering to vote. If the challenge is not withdrawn, the voter may vote a provisional ballot. This does not apply to absentee voting.
- The bill requires the state commissioner of elections to develop and implement a public education campaign related to the new requirements.
- The bill provides that a county commissioner may dispute certain applications for an absentee ballot if it appears to the commissioner that the signature on the application has been signed by someone other than the registered voter, in comparing the signature on the application to the signature on record of the registered voter named on the application. If the commissioner disputes a registered voter’s application under this subsection, the commissioner is required to notify the registered voter and the registered voter is permitted to submit a new application and signature or update the registered voter’s signature on record.
- The bill also requires county commissioners to consider absentee ballots to be defective if it appears to the commissioner that the signature on the envelope marked with the affidavit has been signed by someone other than the registered voter, in comparing the signature on the envelope to the signature on record of the registered voter named on the envelope.
- The bill also provides that if the state registrar of voters receives information from another jurisdiction that a registered voter of this state may have voted or attempted to vote more than once in the same election, the state registrar must provide the information to the appropriate county commissioner.
- Under the bill, if a county commissioner receives information from the state registrar or from another jurisdiction that a registered voter may have voted or attempted to vote more than once in the same election, the county commissioner is required to provide the information to the county attorney in each jurisdiction where the voter voted or attempted to vote. A county attorney of this state that is provided such information is required to examine the information and report any findings to the county commissioner.
- The bill eliminates straight party voting and makes conforming changes.
- The bill requires the state commissioner of elections to develop and implement, in consultation with the county commissioners of elections and other relevant stakeholder groups, a comprehensive and statewide public education campaign in order to inform Iowa voters of the election day identification requirements contained in the bill.
State Representative Ken Rizer (R-Cedar Rapids) was the floor manager for this bill that passed the House State Government Committee passed this bill that was formerly HSB 93 last week during funnel week.
AARP-Iowa, the Iowa State Education Asssociation, Teamsters Local 238, Iowa State Association of Counties, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, League of Women Voters of Iowa, League of United Latin American Citizens, Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, Iowa Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), ACLU of Iowa, One Iowa, and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa registered against this bill.
The only organization to register in favor of the bill was the Iowa Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. Most Iowans back legislation like this as 69 percent of Iowans support mandatory voter ID according to a poll conducted last month by The Des Moines Register.