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GUEST EDITORIAL: Secretary of State's Election Integrity Bill

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By Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate

Thank you for the opportunity to provide more information regarding my Election Integrity Act proposal. My office conducted extensive outreach to Iowans with disabilities preceding the 2016 general election to help you understand the resources available to make voting easier. We will continue that important work in the future.

I understand that Iowans with disabilities have some concerns about how this legislation might affect them. Let me assure you: Nothing will prevent eligible Iowans from casting ballots.

My proposal is based largely on improving our election technology, by instituting electronic poll books in every precinct. It also calls for a Voter Identification system, to ensure the integrity of the vote. To cast a ballot at the polling place, voters will need to show a driver’s license, state-issued non-driver’s ID, military ID or passport. For any registered voter that does not already have one of those forms of identification, we will mail you a Voter ID card, automatically, for free. 

Obtaining this card does not require any extra effort by the voter. We will match the voter registration database with the Iowa Department of Transportation’s database. Any registered voter who is not in the Iowa DOT database receives a free card in the mail. This applies to newly registered voters as well.

When you go to vote at the polls, simply provide that card to the poll worker, the poll worker will scan the card, your information will appear on their computer, and you will be ready to vote. I firmly believe this proposal will make the voting process at the polls simpler and more streamlined.

When requesting an absentee ballot, you will simply include your voter ID number to the request form.  The voter ID number will come from your driver’s license, your state ID, or the new voter ID that will be issued by the Secretary of State.  This will ensure that you are the only person who can request your absentee ballot.

Additionally, our outreach and educational efforts to explain this program will be extensive. Myself and members of my staff will visit with Iowans across the state to explain this process. We will particularly focus heavily on Iowans with disabilities to ensure they are well informed about this initiative.

I want to reinforce the fact that no eligible voter will be turned away, we will provide free Voter ID cards to every Iowan that does not have an official ID, and this does not change the voter registration process at all. That is the message we will deliver to every Iowa voter, so that they know it is easy to vote, but hard to cheat in Iowa.

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The views expressed in this editorial are not those of ID Action or the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, but are provided so that you can understand all perspectives on this issue.

ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER: Paul Pate served in the State Senate (1989-1994), as Mayor of Cedar Rapids (2002-2005); and as Secretary of State twice (1995-1998; 2015-present).  Secretary Pate was recently elected to the Executive Board of the National Association of Secretaries of State and serves as the vice-president for the Midwestern Region. In 2015, Secretary Pate was chosen for the Council of State Governments’ Toll Fellowship program, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious leadership development programs for state government officials.