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Voters without IDs a small share of primary electorate

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DES MOINES -- Hundreds of voters in the state’s most populous counties signed an oath to confirm their identity, rather than offering an ID, in order to cast a ballot in Iowa’s June 5 primary elections.

Only a small share of the overall number of ballots cast, the numbers provide a glimpse into how many Iowa voters were required to take that extra step as the state’s new voter ID law rolled out.

Iowa voters must now present a state-approved form of identification when voting. That law was passed in 2017 by Republican state lawmakers and is being rolled out gradually.

During a soft rollout for the primary elections, Iowa voters without a state-approved form of identification could vote if they signed an oath and affidavit to confirm their identity.

According to county auditors:

• 118 affidavits were signed at the polls in Scott County on Election Day.

• 76 in Black Hawk County.

• 47 in Cerro Gordo County.

• 41 in Woodbury County.

• 82 in Linn County, although that number only tracked affidavits signed under one of the county’s two voting systems. The other did not track signed affidavits.

Johnson and Polk counties did not track the number of signed affidavits, auditors said.

The number of signed affidavits represent a tiny share of the ballots cast in those counties. In Scott and Black Hawk counties, for example, affidavits comprised less than 1 percent of the ballots cast.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who oversees the state’s elections and proposed the new voter ID law, declared the soft rollout a success.

“Iowans set a record for early voting in a primary election and we continue to break records for voter registration. I’m thrilled to see so many people in our state engaged in the process,” Pate said in a statement. “The reports we received from across the state showed that voters, poll workers and county auditors were ready for the new voter ID requirements. Overall, the June primary went smoothly. My office will continue its educational efforts and work with all 99 county auditors in advance of the November general election.”

In November's general election, the soft roll-out will continue. But in 2019, voters who fail to provide sufficient identification will complete a provisional ballot that will be counted later, only after the voter provides an approved form of ID.

Auditors said there were some complaints from voters about the ID requirement, and the need to read aloud personal information during the verification process, despite the use of an ID. In some cases, poll workers were unsure if the form of identification presented was sufficient under the new law.

In addition, some voters failed to present an approved ID and signed the oath and affidavit as a former of protest against the new law, auditors said.

“We did have some upset voters,” said Travis Weipert, the Johnson County auditor and president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors. “A lot of people continued to say, ‘It’s my constitutional right to vote. I shouldn’t have to show my ID and answer a lot of questions.’”

The new process slowed down some lines of voters, Weipert said, adding he is concerned that may have dissuaded people from voting.

He also expressed concern for the November general election when more college students --- who may lack the sufficient identification if they are not originally from Iowa --- are more likely to vote.

Scott County auditor Roxanna Moritz voiced similar concerns.

“There will be a lot more people and a lot more scenarios,” Moritz told Scott County supervisors during a post-election meeting this past week, the Quad City Times reported.

The new ID law requires Iowa voters to present an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID, or a U.S. passport or military ID. Iowa Voter ID PIN cards were created and sent to Iowans without a driver’s or non-operator’s license, and are an acceptable form of identification.

Supporters of the new law said it was created to ensure integrity and elections and to modernize the state’s voting system.

Opponents, mainly Democrats and voting rights groups, said the law will cause fewer people to vote because of the identification requirement.

Pate says security and participation are not mutually exclusive, and voting laws can be strict enough to protect election integrity while flexible enough to encourage citizens to vote.

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