I’ve heard the buzz about Voter ID bills over the country and thought, “Oh, Iowa won’t fall for that.”
I was way too confident. One Voter ID bill passed the Iowa House last year and now Secretary of State Schultz has brought forth another. Of course, we want to make sure each voter is legally entitled, but has there been a sudden outbreak of fraud?
Austin Freick, President of College and Young Democrats of Iowa says it is a costly bill and “so restrictive that nearly every student ID would not be valid at the polls, and even state-issued photo IDs given to lawmakers at the capitol do not meet these strict requirements.” The Iowa Federation of College Republicans handed out cupcakes last week at the Statehouse to anyone who could show an ID and found that lawmakers’ IDs would not meet the proposed law’s requirements. Both groups dramatize how difficult it would be for anyone without a driver’s license to vote.
Thirty-one states have passed Voter ID laws. Response to a rash of fraud?
Not according to a report from the National Republican Lawyers Association which documented all cases of voter fraud in the country over the entire last decade and found only 311 cases. Even Secretary Schultz who introduced the Iowa bill and who oversees elections admitted no evidence of voter fraud here. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said, “There is not a single county auditor who supports” this effort.
Democrat leaders say it’s an effort to defeat President Obama. They point out that ID fraud rules as written around the country would keep out many college students, poor people, and aging seniors – all groups that gave Obama large support. “But don’t states offer free ID’s to voters who need them?” you ask. Yes, but the process requires more time, money, and energy than many students, seniors and working poor can afford. When I’m too old to drive, I would like my voter registration to be enough.
The plot thickens. The Center for Media and Democracy has published “ALEC Exposed,” saying ALEC provides the basic template for ID laws over the country. ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council and calls itself a “Non-partisan membership association for conservative lawmakers who share a common belief.”
That “common belief” must be in the power of money to buy politics! They are writing laws for legislators all over the country. (Google up ALEC and see.) Major contributors are the billionaire Koch brothers and other huge corporate names like Kraft Foods, AT&T, and Walmart. Liz Dorland of Omaha’s Action 3 News found that the ID bills in both Iowa and Nebraska legislatures include every single point from the ALEC original. The leader in NE denies any ALEC connection, but ALEC’s role in Iowa is very clear – co-sponsor of our bill is Senator Linda Upmeyer, ALEC Treasurer!
Gov. Branstad, though wise enough to treat Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Peace Tree root beer, has unfortunately not been wise enough to reject Voter ID. The campaign for Voter ID seems to be a fraud – promoting a need where a need does not exist. In fact, if it weren’t such a violation of public trust, it would be funny: generally the same Republican leaders who rage against regulations and demand budget cuts are now promoting a new, unnecessary regulation that would cost money! An expensive joke.