Efforts to prove voter identity didn’t seem to be much of an issue in Linn County on Tuesday, but it didn’t keep voters from taking sides in the ongoing debate over voter identification laws.
Currently, Iowa voters are required to prove citizenship when they register to vote. Official photo identification is not required at the voter’s polling location, unless they are registering to vote that same day.
The debate over voter ID laws heated up in the past few months in Iowa and across the country as the election drew closer. Proponents of the laws say they prevent voter fraud, while opponents claim such a law could deter eligible voters from going to the polls.
Daniel Reck, 31, who voted Tuesday in Marion, said he doesn’t believe there are many cases of voter fraud, but doesn’t oppose requiring an ID to be shown at the polls. He said there should be provisions that allow people to vouch for one another.
“I think it’s reasonable to seek assurance that someone is a citizen, but I don’t think we need to be burdensome and presume that someone is out to cast a fraudulent ballot,” Reck said.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has been leading a push to require voters in the state to display a government- or university-issued photo ID when they go to the polls. Schultz, a Republican, turned over more than 1,000 names of potential noncitizens who have voted since 2010 to the Division of Criminal Investigation, after comparing lists of noncitizens with driving permits against people who recently voted or registered.
Five of those people have since been charged with election fraud or election misconduct.
Kathy Hall, 68, of Cedar Rapids, said she said believes concern about voter fraud is a “greatly exaggerated issue.” A Democrat, Hall believes requiring voters to show an official government-issued photo ID card is a ploy by the opposing party.
“In Iowa, I think it’s a made-up issue,” Hall said. “I don’t think that problem exists. I think it’s a Republican conspiracy to keep the poor and racial minorities from voting.”
Jamie Vandersee, 34, of Marion, who cast her ballot with her 10-year-old son Tuesday, said a voter ID law makes sense to her.
“You have to do it when you get on an airplane or anything else,” Vandersee said. “You’re putting somebody in place to take care of our government. You want to make sure, and that’s important.”
Linn County Democrats Chairwoman Diane Hoffman said students often run into the most trouble trying to prove they should be allowed to vote. She said she knew of several Coe College students who had to “scramble” Tuesday to find people who could attest to their identity.
“That’s going to be a problem until we come up with some kind of solution that fits that type of young voter,” Hoffman said. “It’s an issue we struggle with every four years.”
Steve Armstrong, chairman for the Linn County Republican Party, said he did not notice any similar issues at the six precincts he visited by mid-afternoon.
“The people I have watched so far have been volunteering their ID, as if they thought their ID was required to vote,” Armstrong said.