Voter ID is unnecessary, expensive, and threatens to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Iowans.
African-American man voting 2014

Voter identification laws are a part of an ongoing strategy to roll back decades of progress on voting rights. They deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and stand in direct opposition to our country’s trend of including more Americans in the democratic process. 

Voter ID Makes It Harder for Eligible Voters to Vote

  • Voter ID reduces voter turnout in the states where it’s been introduced, according to a 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. 1
     
  • Voter ID laws typically require voters to produce a driver’s license, passport, or military ID—either to register, to vote, or in order to get a special voter registration card. That’s a problem because:
    • About 11 percent of adult Iowans do not have a driver’s license. That’s 260,000 Iowans. 2
    • These tend to be people who do not drive because they are elderly, who are low-income and, or have disabilities. 3
    • In fact, 15 percent of all Iowans age 65 or older do not have a driver’s license; approximately 25 percent of all Black Iowans lack a driver’s license 4
       
  • Voter ID makes Iowa voters go through unnecessary bureaucracy. It can take considerable time and resources for a voter to assembling the underlying documents needed—taking time off of work during business hours, making phone calls, finding childcare, getting a ride if they do not drive—just to obtain new documentation to vote. It becomes yet another obstacle between the voter and the poll booth.
     
  • Also, as pointed out by the Iowa Association of Counties, some voters find themselves in a Catch-22. They are required to have a certified birth certificate to get a state issued photo ID, and yet also required to have a state issued photo ID to get a certified birth certificate.
     
  • “Free” voter ID is not free. Assembling the underlying documents required to obtain voter ID costs money. It can a significant expense for lower-income Iowans. The combined cost of document fees, travel expenses and waiting time are estimated to range from $75 to $175. 5

Voter ID is Discriminatory

  • Voter ID disproportionately disenfranchises Black Iowans, Latinos, and others. Nationally, one in four qualified Black voters do not have government-issued photo ID, and rates of Black Iowans without Iowa driver’s licenses in some counties, like Black Hawk, exceed even those numbers. 6

Voter ID is Unnecessary and Expensive

  • Voter ID is unnecessary—a solution in search of a problem. As Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has pointed out, Iowa has among the highest rankings for voter integrity. 7 We are aware of zero documented instances of voter impersonation fraud in Iowa, the type voter ID seeks to prevent. Read more.
     
  • Iowa already has in place other means to verify voters’ identities and residency in their precincts. Find out more.
     
  • Voter ID will cost the Iowa taxpayer millions of dollars. Buying the additional computers and technology needed, conducting voter education, providing the actual IDs, and other voter ID expenses will cost far more than the $1.5 million the Secretary of State projected in year one alone. The Iowa Association of County Auditors found that Indiana spent $10 million just on providing free IDs over three years; the cost of outreach, education, and litigation drives costs even higher. See a breakdown of the costs here.
     
  • Cost estimates for implementing voter ID laws do not include the expense of litigation to defend a voter ID law. Many voter ID laws have been challenged in court as unconstitutionally blocking people from voting.

Other Problems

  • Signature verification is also a solution in search of a problem. Obviously, people’s signatures change, sometimes day to day. People who are elderly or who have disabilities are especially likely to have varying signatures or need help from others with the absentee balloting process. And remember, we’re talking about pollworkers who are not handwriting experts in charge of matching. The system has the potential to block many qualified voters’ ability to cast their vote because a pollworker might wrongly challenge their signatures. 7
     
  • Proposed new deadlines on voter registration organizations are unconstitutional as well. After Florida imposed similar burdens on voter registration activities, groups that are vital to voter registration and outreach programs like the League of Women Voters had to cease their work temporarily until a federal judged blocked the law. 8

Find Out More

See the facts on voter ID in other states and nationally

Read these Iowa newspaper editorials opposing voter ID for Iowa

February 2; Cedar Rapids Gazette: Pate's Proposal Expensive and Makes It Harder to Vote

Jan. 12: Quad City Times: Pate's Voter ID Proposal "Downright Indefensible"

Jan. 10: Council Bluff Daily NonPariel editorial: Voter ID Proposal Misses the Mark

Footnotes:

1 http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665966.pdf  (See page 48)

2, 3, 4 Based on a computation of Iowa Department of Transportation statistics from http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/FactsandStats.html http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/stats/licenseddrivers.pdf

5 Richard Sobel, The High Cost of ‘Free’ Photo Voter Identification Cards (Cambridge: Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard  Law School, 2014), http://today.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/FullReportVoterIDJune20141.pdf, 2.

6 New York University’s Brennan Center For Justice, Citizens without Proof: a Survey of Americans’ Possession of Documentary Proof of Citizenship and Photo Identification, at 3.

7 According to the 2016 Perceptions of Electoral Integrity survey conducted by the Electoral Integrity Project, an independent academic project based at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and University of Sydney, Iowa received the second highest score on the Electoral Integrity Index making it one of the best states in the nation for electoral integrity. https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/featured-dataset

8 See Florida Democratic Party  v. Detznerhttp://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/FDP-OrderGrantingPreliminaryInjunction101716.pdf.

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