Protecting Iowa’s Election Integrity
This week, committee members worked tirelessly to pass priority legislation ahead of the first legislative funnel deadline. Legislative funnels were first enacted in the Iowa Legislature in 1979 as a bipartisan solution to keep session running on schedule, encourage members to work together on important issues, and help narrow the focus on which bills move through the entire legislative process.
House Republicans are committed to maintaining Iowa’s status as one of the top states in the nation for election integrity. This week, we passed the Election Integrity and Modernization Act (HF 516) to increase voter confidence and bring our voting process into the 21st Century. This bill makes it easy to vote, hard to commit fraud, and ensures no eligible voter is turned away.
HF 516 works to address many of the areas of concerns raised by county auditors without suppressing voters in any way. For the 95% of Iowans who already have a government issued form of ID, any of the following are acceptable documents to bring to the polls on Election Day:
- An Iowa Driver’s License
- An Iowa Non-operator ID
- A United States Passport
- A Veteran or Military ID
In order to ensure that every legal, eligible voter has the opportunity to vote, citizens of Iowa without a driver’s license or non-operator ID will be issued a free voter identification card, which they can then use at their local precinct. These cards will automatically be distributed by the Secretary of State’s office upon enactment of this legislation. These newly formatted voter registration cards will also be sent to every voter in the state when they first register to vote, or change their registration.
Voter integrity can also be better maintained with more modernized equipment. This bill expands the use of electronic poll books which will create a more efficient process for poll workers, and allow for greater accuracy in confirming the identity of voters. Additionally, in order to ensure greater accuracy at the county level, random audits of precincts will take place after general elections. This will help ensure every Iowan’s vote is counted.
As we worked through this issue, House Republicans listened to Iowan’s concerns over earlier versions of the bill. For that reason, HF 516 does not shorten the absentee voting window and it does not shorten poll hours. Absentee voting will still begin forty days before Election Day and the polls will still be open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.
The changes established in this bill will not take effect until January of 2019 in order for Iowans to be properly educated on the new process.