Voter Integrity Bill Moves Forward


SSB 1163, a bill to improve election integrity, was referred to the Senate State Government committee on Wednesday after a subcommittee hearing. The subcommittee was chaired by Senator Roby Smith (R, Bettendorf), with Senator Jake Chapman (R, Adel) and Senator Tony Bisignano (D, Des Moines).

This bill was proposed by Iowa Secretary of State, Paul Pate (R, Cedar Rapids). A spokeswoman from the Secretary of State’s office said that the bill has three goals: Voter verification, absentee ballot security, and transparency. The first goal will be met by requiring voters to show a valid ID when they vote. These will then be cross-referenced with a list of those eligible for jury duty to ensure that they are citizens of the community in which they are voting. The second goal will be achieved by adding a voter verification number to every absentee ballot request form. The date of returning absentee ballots will be moved up one week so that there will be more time to correct errors. Finally, elections will become more transparent by conducting a post-election audit.

John Thompson, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, spoke on behalf of SSB 1163.

“If you are alive, if you are a real person, and if you are a citizen, you will still be able to vote. If you can’t afford an ID, there are provisions that still allow you to vote. A recent Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans support voter ID, and a poll by the Des Moines Register concluded that 69% of Iowans are in favor. As a Party official, it is my responsibility to recruit candidates to run for office, and I’ve seen many good candidates become discouraged when they feel that the election process is unfair.  These polls show there is at least a perception problem. And when good candidates won’t run that hurts Iowa.”

Those registered against SSB 1163 include League of United Latin American Citizens, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, AFSCME Council, Iowa State Association of Counties, Iowa State Education Association, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, Iowa Annual Conference of the Methodist Church, Fawkes-Lee and Ryan Inc., AARP of Iowa, League of Women Voters of Iowa, ACLU, AFL-CIO, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, and One Iowa Education Fund.

Senator Smith and Senator Chapman voted in favor of the bill, with Senator Bisignano voting against the bill after he showed up late and left the hearing early. The bill must pass through the Senate State Government committee before its debate on the Senate floor.

Similar  legislation moved through a house subcommittee last night.

MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative  assistant in the Iowa house and a political consultant specializing in fundraising.