Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Monday he may ask state lawmakers to consider implementing a signature verification system, given that nearly half of Iowans who voted in the Nov. 6 general election did so by voting early or casting absentee ballots.
The Republican state elections commissioner said he is exploring the possibility of establishing a system in Iowa, modeled after Oregon and Washington, that would use a machine to read a signature on an absentee ballot envelope and verify it by matching it with the voter’s signature on registration records.
“It’s just a way to make sure that people are who they say they are when they vote,” the secretary of state told reporters Monday. “We had almost 46 percent of the state vote early and vote absentee, so we’re going to be discussing signature verification as something that maybe we should be looking at doing just like Oregon and Washington do with absentee ballots.”
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said county auditors are working on a plan for voter verification. They will present it to the Legislature before the session.
“We want to give them a fact-filled document. … Voter ID is not going anywhere in the Senate,” Miller said. “We all see the need to verify the signatures on absentee ballots. That’s where we need to tighten things up.”
Schultz said he also planned to ask state lawmakers during the 85th General Assembly to consider requiring voters to provide a photo identification to receive a ballot as well. A similar proposal stalled in the split-control Iowa Legislature, and the General Assembly will convene next month with Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Iowa House and Democrats in control of the Iowa Senate by a 26-23 margin, pending the outcome of a special election in Senate District 22 next month and two recounts of legislative races decided by close outcomes.
On another topic, Schultz said his office is conducting an internal audit to determine what caused the Secretary of State’s Web site to stall about 90 minutes in posting results after polls in Iowa closed at 9 p.m. on Nov. 6, Election Day. He expected to have audit results before next month’s special election.
“We’re looking at that and making sure that we have a procedure in the future so if that happens again, we can put it on an alternative site so that people can still get that information,” he said.
Schultz also said he expected more arrest warrants would be issued in an ongoing voter fraud investigation being conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation beyond those issued in Pottawattamie, Page and Dallas counties.