Iowa lawmakers reject bid to soften voter ID bill

Iowa Republicans defeated an amendment to their voter ID bill that would have added forms of acceptable ID.
Late Monday night, the House passed the latest version of the ID measure. It now goes back to the GOP-controlled Senate, which is also likely to approve it. Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, is expected to sign it.
Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment that would have added to the list of acceptable forms of ID, allowing Iowans to vote with a student ID, a Medicare card, a tribal ID, or a hunting license, among other forms of identification.

Rep. Ken Rizer, the bill’s lead sponsor, said he thinks the forms of ID already in the bill are enough. Those include a driver’s license, a non-driving ID, a passport, a military ID, or a special voter ID card being created by the state.

“Those all rise to a very high level of authority and acceptance,” said Rizer. 

Neither Rizer nor Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican who has been the driving force behind the bill, responded to inquiries from The Daily Democracy asking for more detail on the reason for not including the forms of ID in the Democratic amendment. 
The state has said it will send a free ID to anyone who needs one and applies, a group it estimates at around 85,000 people. But the number of Iowans without acceptable ID may be far greater.
Lawmakers’ rejection of the effort to expand the list of acceptable IDs could come back to bite them if the law is challenged in court. A federal court ruling that Texas’s ID law intentionally discriminated against minorities relied in part on the fact that the legislature similarly rejected amendments that would added to the list of acceptable IDs.
As we’ve reported, Iowa also plans to spend just $50,000 to educate the public about the new ID requirement. That’s far less per voter than what was spent by other states whose public education campaigns have been criticized as woefully lacking.
And the bill would eliminate straight-ticket voting, a time-saver in which voters hit one button to select all of a party’s candidates. Straight-ticket voting tends to be used disproportionately by minority voters.

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