By Marina Jaimes
In December 2017, I, along with other student leaders from most Iowa universities, gathered with the Office of the Secretary of State staff to discuss the new voter-ID law and how to educate the students on our campuses on maintaining voting integrity. It was reassuring to see that a governmental agency would take time out of its day to ensure that an entire voting group would be prepared for election season.
Fast forward to May, the Des Moines Register reported that a civil-rights group and an ISU student are suing the Secretary of State Office because of Iowans’ inability to fairly cast votes. The group, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, argues that Latinos are most likely to be discouraged under the law. Its soft bigotry on my intellect and ability to obtain a voter ID as a Latina is overlooked by the very same group that works to advance Latinos in society.
If its concerns were about lower-income households’ ability to afford voter IDs, the Secretary of State Office has covered the cost for 85,000 Iowans who do not have state-issued IDs. ISU student and College Democrats Vice President Taylor Blair happened to forget his voter ID and therefore deemed the bill unconstitutional even though he was still allowed to vote after later validating his identity.
In all, I’d have to agree with Secretary of State Paul Pate that the allegations in the case are politically motivated and were not intended for the betterment of society.
By Isabella Rosario
Supporters say the Iowa voter-ID law is needed to protect the integrity of the election process. Critics fear it to be a measure for voter disenfranchisement. But there isn’t significant evidence to support an epidemic of voter fraud nor that voter-ID laws discourage swaths of people from going to the polls. The chief reason Iowa’s voter-ID law should be abolished is that it costs more for taxpayers (and yes, potentially, the voting process) than it’s worth.
Approximately $700,000 was appropriated by the Legislature to implement the new law last year. That money has gone toward educating voters, training poll workers, and providing ID cards to citizens who don’t have driver’s licenses.
But voter fraud is extremely rare. A study from The Washington Post examined 14 years of voting and found just 241 fraudulent ballots out of 1 billion cast. In short, the voter-ID law uses an exorbitant amount of resources for a microscopic problem.
Still, the claim that voter-ID laws massively disenfranchise minority voters has also been debunked. One widely reported 2017 study was supposed to be proof of this assertion, but it was soon found to have a skewed methodology.
Following the June 5 primary, Iowa Democrats reportedly received voter complaints from three counties. In addition to confusion around the changes, other voters expressed their opinion that the law is unconstitutional. A civil-rights organization and an Iowa State University student are suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, contending that the law infringes on Iowans’ voting rights.
To put it plainly, the cost of the voter ID law is vastly disproportionate to the threat of voter fraud. And that, even without its other negative consequences, should be enough reason to oppose it.