Iowa's voter ID bill is a model for the country
Matt Schultz
Secretary of State
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319
Iowa Secretary of State Seal
Chance McElhaney, (515) 725-2942

Iowa's voter ID bill is a model for the country

Guest Opinion by Secretary of State Matt Schultz in the Iowa City Press-Citizen

I was glad to read that the Press-Citizen Editorial Board has "never been completely against the idea of requiring voters to show ID at the polls — provided that voters can obtain such IDs easily and at no charge."

A recent Des Moines Register poll also shows that 71 percent of Iowans want a Voter ID law. This commonsense law should not be a partisan issue but instead it should be something that Republicans and Democrats should work together to pass.

As secretary of state, it is my job to make sure that we have fair and honest elections and that we protect voter's rights. We have accomplished these goals with my Voter ID bill. In fact, it is impossible, and I repeat, it is impossible for an eligible voter to be prevented from voting using my Voter ID bill.

We took a different approach than other states, making sure that we balanced election integrity with voters' rights. We don't want to prevent anyone eligible to vote from voting. We just want to make sure everyone is who they say they are when they go and vote.

To accomplish this I created a bi-partisan election advisory board made up of five Republican and five Democrat county auditors. I asked them to give me input on a Voter ID bill that is affordable and does not prevent the elderly, students or minorities from voting.

With their input, I created a bill that allows any federal, state or local government-issued photo ID as well as any student photo ID from a public or private university, college or high school to be used at the polls. For the elderly confined to health care facilities, we only require an affidavit to be signed if they do not have identification. It also requires the state of Iowa to provide a free photo ID to any eligible voter who requests an ID.

In the case where someone does not have an ID at the polls, we allow someone to attest for them as long as the person attesting has a valid photo ID. If someone is unable to show ID, we allow them to vote a provisional ballot, but the burden of proof is shifted from the voter to the public. This requires the precinct election board to count the provisional ballot unless a member of the public can prove that the voter is ineligible to vote.

The law also will be implemented over a two-year period to give voters time to be educated and to adjust to the new rules.

Judge Richard Posner in his recent book was critical of his own appellate court decision supporting Voter ID and some in the media have used his comments as an excuse to attack Voter ID. Posner and critics of Voter ID need to look no further than Iowa, and my bill, as an example for the country about how to have commonsense Voter ID legislation and still protect voters' rights.

It is impossible for an eligible voter to be prevented from voting using my Voter ID bill.