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Judge Strikes Down Part of Iowa Voting Reform Law

Melody Mercado

13 Now News

Oct 1, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Polk County judge has struck down parts of a controversial voter ID law which was challenged by a local Hispanic civil rights group and an Iowa State University student.

The ruling had three major outcomes:

  • Valid forms of identification are still required to vote, but now all registered voters are eligible for voter pin cards. Pin cards can be used in place of a government issued ID at the polls. Before, pin cards where only available to voters who did not have an Iowa issued ID. The court ruled this as unconstitutional, stating that everyone should have equal access to obtaining a pin card.
  • County auditors will not be ‘signature matching’ on absentee ballots. The court ruled that it would violate the Constitution to do so. County auditors also testified in favor of this ruling. “My signature personally changes throughout the day, depending on what I'm doing how many times I signed my name. So auditors as a whole weren't comfortable with having to make that decision about judging somebody signature,” said Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jamie Fitzgerald.
  • Absentee ballot applications must also include a voter identification number, but it is not required by the voter as the county auditor can fill in this information for the voter.

Joe Enriquez Henry of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa said they are mostly happy with the decision but have not decided whether or not they will appeal.

“We'll continue to look at what we might want to do on going back to court. But until then, we applaud the efforts of the judge on two major fronts,” said Henry.

Secretary of State Paul Pate called the decision a "victory for election integrity” as Iowa will still require proper identification to register to vote.

"My goal has always been to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. Iowans have overwhelmingly voiced their support for Voter ID and this law ensures voters will be asked to provide identification before casting their ballot," Pate said in a statement. "Additionally, the court found that the requirement of a voter verification number on an absentee ballot request places no additional burden on voters. I appreciate the District Court’s decision that upholds the principles of Voter ID and election integrity. I will continue to fight to ensure Iowa has clean, fair elections statewide.”