Discriminatory, disenfranchising and dangerous were some of the words used by critics to describe voter ID - something we supported - approved by the Iowa Legislature last year.
If a "soft rollout" of the new law used for Tuesday's primary election was an accurate barometer, the sky won't fall in our state because Iowa voters will be asked to produce a form of identification before casting ballots at polling places.
“I am very pleased with the reports we are receiving from voters, county auditors and groups like the League of Women Voters about the soft rollout to the election integrity laws," Secretary of State Paul Pate told us on Thursday. "The reviews we have received have been overwhelmingly positive. I think our voter education efforts and trainings for poll workers provided excellent preparation and made them voter ready."
Under the law, voters need to show an acceptable form of government-issued ID (Iowa driver's license, Iowa non-operator's ID, U.S. passport, military ID, veteran's ID). If a voter doesn't have one of the acceptable forms of ID, his or her county will issue him or her a voter-verification card, free of charge. A request for an absentee ballot will need to include acceptable identification, as well.
According to the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, the "soft rollout" will be used through the general election in November so voters and poll workers can get used to changes. This year, if a voter does not possess an acceptable form of identification, he or she can still cast a ballot after signing an Oath of Identity. When full implementation of voter ID provisions begin next year, a voter without proper ID will be offered a provisional ballot and will be able to provide ID up until the time of the county canvass of votes (the Monday after election day for primary and general elections).
"Thank you to all 99 county auditors and the 9,000 precinct election officials across the state for their hard work and dedication to clean, fair elections," Pate said. "The primary election was a success and we will continue our efforts to make sure every voter knows about the new requirements in advance of the November general election.”
Within today's society, one needs some form of identification to conduct almost any kind of personal business. We do not believe asking the same of Iowa voters in order to strengthen the integrity of our state's elections by providing an additional layer of protection against fraud is unreasonable.
In a June 3 Letter to the Editor published by The Journal in advance of the primary election, Pate said he believes "it should be easy to vote, but hard to cheat."
In our view, Iowa's new voter ID provision checks both boxes.