By Bonnie Pitz and Myrna Loehrlein
The League of Women Voters has spent 93 years gaining and protecting the voting rights of all eligible voters. Voter photo ID is not the best way to do it.
Disenfranchisement of up to 11 percent of the population is a side effect of this effort. (Those who do not have a photo ID are disabled, elderly, students.)
Fear is often used to convince free people to relinquish their rights. Iowans are being told they should fear the theft of their votes. We are being told that the way to prevent that theft from happening is to limit our voting right to people who can produce a certain kind of photo ID.
An instance of vote theft was reported in the recent special election in Linn County. The facts as reported by The Gazette: the alleged impersonating voter took the place of a voter known to two election officials on site at the time, and the alleged impersonator misspelled the voter’s name when she signed the voter register. This person was allowed to vote and her vote may have been counted.
In an ideal world, this individual would have been detected. We have a process that might have prevented this possible vote theft. While we commend poll workers for the long days and difficult work they do, the misspelled name might have alerted the poll worker that something was wrong.
Current law gives the poll worker the power to request an ID if there is any question. Often, if anything comes into question, the county auditor is contacted to decide how to proceed.
Our current process can work without costing taxpayers the millions that voter photo ID has been shown to cost and without disenfranchising other eligible voters.
Do not be misled by this one incident. While our system is not perfect, no system, including voter photo ID will ever be perfect. Our system has reliable safeguards in place that, when vigorously applied, will keep Iowa elections fair, open and reliable for all — and will not add millions of dollars each year to election costs.
Bonnie Pitz, Newton, is president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. Myrna Loehrlein, Cedar Rapids, is past president. Comments: email@example.com