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Voter ID bill passes Iowa House

State capitol building in Des Moines

DES MOINES – A voter ID bill has passed the Iowa House of Representatives and a companion bill will be debated in the Republican-controlled Senate before it goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

The Iowa House passed HF 516, a bill that requires voters to present photo identification documents when they go to vote. The bill passed 59-40-1.
A state-issued ID card would be delivered to those without a driver’s license.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate released a statement after the bill he supported was passed:

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.

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.

Iowa Democrats fervently opposed the bill, however, saying it solves a problem that does not exist, as there is little or no proof that Iowa suffers from voter fraud.

The Iowa ACLU chimed in after the bill passed, saying “It is a sad day for Iowa. The Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s voter suppression bill has passed the house. We are so thankful to the legislators who debated late into the night and today to fight for the voting rights of their constituents who will be harmed by this harmful bill. We call on the Iowa Senate to work with us to amend this bill to eliminate voter suppression.”

One Iowa – the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) organization – Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel issued a statement on the bill’s passage:

“This bill disenfranchises many Iowa voters who may be members of the LGBTQ community like people of color, people with disabilities, elderly people, and others in the name of solving a problem that does not exist,” One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. “Transgender Iowans will face unique challenges at the polls if this bill becomes law due to how difficult obtaining identity documents that accurately reflect their gender can be. We are appalled that the Iowa House has chosen to make it far more difficult and potentially dangerous for some of their constituents to exercise the right to vote.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 40 percent of transgender citizens who are publicly out as transgender do not have a driver’s license that accurately reflects their gender, and 74 percent do not have an updated U.S. passport that accurately reflects their gender. Additionally, respondents to the survey reported being harassed (41 percent), being asked to leave (15 percent), and being assaulted or attacked (3 percent) after presenting identification documents that didn’t accurately reflect their gender, a situation transgender Iowans may find themselves in if HF 516 becomes law.

The bill in the Senate will likely pass along party lines, and Governor Branstad would be expected to sign off.

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