Iowa is the latest state with a photo voter ID requirement, after Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Friday morning a controversial bill that also cuts early voting days and eliminates straight-ticket voting.
Branstad had long been expected to sign the measure, which was proposed by Secretary of State Paul Pate and passed the GOP-controlled legislature last month. Both Branstad and Pate are Republicans.
Under the new law, which is set to go into effect in 2019, voters must present one of a limited number of forms of state- or federal-issued ID. Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment to expand the list of acceptable IDs.
Pate’s office has said it plans to mail free IDs to all 85,000 Iowans who, DMV records show, are registered to vote but lack a driver’s license or other state ID. But there are questions about whether that will cover everyone who needs an ID.
And lawmakers plan to spend just $50,000 to educate the public about the new requirement — far less than what was spent by other states whose education campaigns were deemed woefully inadequate. That makes confusion at the polls a near certainty.
The law’s backers have said the voter ID requirement is needed to combat fraud, but haven’t pointed to any past cases of fraud that the requirement would have stopped. Some have fallen back to saying it’s needed to combat the perception of fraud.
The law also cuts the early voting period from 40 days to 29, and it bans straight-ticket voting, a time-sacking device in which voters push one button to select a party’s slate of candidates.
Studies in other states show racial minorities are more likely than whites to lack Id, to vote early, and to use straight-ticket voting.