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COUNTY AUDITORS DISCUSS VOTER ID

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Four county auditors were invited to discuss their thoughts on the Secretary of State's Voter ID proposal at the House State Government Committee earlier this month.  The auditors represented a mix of Republican/Democratic and rural/urban views, and all opened by saying they were expressing their own personal opinions about the Secretary fo State's proposal (House Study Bill 93). 

All four auditors attending - Dennis Parrot (Jasper County), Ken Kline (Cerro Gordo County), Heidi Burhans (Madison County), and Travis Weipert (Johnson County) - said they have never had problems with voter impersonation at the polls and felt that Iowa's election system is secure.  None said a voter ID bill is needed, but almost all said they will support the Secretary of State's approach because it is the least likely to affect voter participation.

As Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrot said, "I believe 100% there will be a voter ID bill passed this year, so I want the best we can get."  He added that this is why he is going to support the Secretary of State's bill, saying that while he has philosophical concerns about voter ID, he does not have administrative concerns.  

Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline added that all other voter ID proposals have one weakness - none have addressed mailed-out absentee ballots.  “It’s the least secure part of our voting system," he said, because there is no in-person review of absentee voters like there is when voting in person.  He said all voter ID bills to date have “secured the house, but left the back door wide open.” He added the Secretary's proposal is the first bill that closes this loophole.  “If we want to secure elections, that’s the first place to address,” said Kline, who also expressed support for the Secretary of State's approach.

Madison County Auditor Heidi Burhans emphasized the need for all 99 counties to use electronic poll books (called e-pollbooks), which replace the reams of paper used for paper poll books.  E-pollbooks are used in 72 counties, but not in all precincts in those counties.  E-pollbooks allow a voter registration card or other ID to be scanned (using the bar code), which makes the process of voting much faster, and eliminates a lot of pollworker decision-making (and therefore bias).  She did say that funding is needed to help counties purchase the equipment and software for e-Pollbooks, and to pay for upgrades in areas that already have the basic equipment. 

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert noted that he is also concerned about a requirement for post-election audits in the Secretary of State's bill, "It’s a burden to auditors, it’s an unfunded mandate, and it’s something else our taxpayers will have to pick up.” 

Legislators asked if there were many instances of voter fraud (all said no) and if voter misrepresentation was a big problem (also a no).  Organizations currently registered against HSB 93 include: Iowa Association of County Auditors/Iowa State Association of Counties (because there isn't enough funding avaiable for e-pollbooks or audits),  ACLU-Iowa, and League of Women Voters of Iowa. No organization is registered in support at this time.