Draft of Pate Voter ID Bill Finally Emerges

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Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate for weeks has been spinning his proposal for a voter ID law in Iowa as part of a broader effort to ensure “election integrity” even though there’s no evidence that voter fraud is a problem and, as he readily admits, “we ran a darned clean election here” last November. All along, he’s promoted the proposal without releasing a draft of the bill. But today, Bleeding Heartland published a draft it obtained as well as drafts for two related measures prepared by the Legislative Services Agency.

As the blog notes, the draft legislation is consistent with talking points previously released by the secretary of state’s office — no photo ID, just a card that will be mailed free of charge to voters who aren’t in a Department of Transportation database of Iowans who have driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards. There’s no cost estimate yet for the bill, which in past weeks Pate has variously said would cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million.

Pate has argued that his proposal for a non-photo voter ID that’s free means it won’t be difficult to obtain the ID as it is in states requiring voter photo IDs that Republicans have used to disenfranchise Democratic voters. But students leaders of Iowa’s three public universities and others are skeptical that the free IDs will reach all voters who need them, and a number of county auditors are not convinced the measure is necessary but that it would be overly burdensome.

In any case, GOP lawmakers indicated last week that they intend to make changes to the bill, which could make it more closely resemble a traditional voter suppression measure, although they wouldn’t provide any details about their plan to the Associated Press.


Correction: The headline of this article initially said Pate released a draft of the voter ID bill. However, the bill has not been filed yet. Bleeding Heartland obtained a copy of a prefiled draft.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.