Absurd reasoning in action as Iowa Senate approves voter ID bill

Matt Chapman covers yesterday’s Iowa Senate debate on the voter suppression bill. John Deeth explained the key points of a Republican amendment changing that bill in several important ways. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Thursday the Senate passed along party lines the controversial voter ID bill, House File 516, and sent it to the House for approval.

Forget about Democratic amendments to accept other forms of ID such as Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare cards. Republicans voted that down.

Forget about the amendment that would restore the early voting window to the current 40 days instead of 29 days. Republicans voted that down.

Forget about the amendment that would remove the need for signatures to be examined by poll workers, which will reduce access to the polls by creating long lines and the potential for biased decision making by poll workers.

And forget about the provision that would allow two persons in the booth, since we only print ballots in English, and non-native speakers may need help understanding the ballot.

And forget about the claim that provisional ballots will be provided if you have no ID. You will have 48 hours to show up at your auditor’s office with a photo ID anyway.

And forget about the fact that the education and contacting of eligible voters is woefully underfunded.

But don’t forget about Senator Nate Boulton’s comments during closing arguments, or those of other senators disgusted by social injustice. (You should go to the archived footage and watch.)

All you need to know about the validity of the reasoning behind this bill is to listen, read or watch the closing arguments by the bill’s (I won’t say author because I think we all know who wrote this) floor manager, Senator Roby Smith.

According to Smith:

• You can use a provisional ballot. (see above – no mention of further action needed to qualify it)

• You can be out for a run and show up at the polling booth and vote (once again provisional ballot)

• To say that you lose your documentation and you can’t vote, that won’t happen under this bill. (once again provisional ballot)

• This is not complicated. This is simple. (Not really)

• Iowans want voter ID. (Look at the way the question was phrased in the poll. If you ask Iowans if they are for making it difficult for Iowans to vote you might get a different response)

• This bill will cost 1 percent of $50 million ($500,000) that are spent annually on elections one time and $10,000 going forward. (ask any county auditor about that)

• No Iowans will be turned away. Everyone will receive a free ID to vote. (except for those who live in poverty and are too busy trying to get by to pay attention to these ALEC sponsored bills and can keep updating if they move. How do you mail ID to a homeless person?)

• There were 27 cases of voter fraud the last few years (specifics would be nice on the years) according to the Office of the Commissioner of Iowa Public Safety (Holds up the paper and pulls it taught a couple of times for emphasis) I have heard there was only one case of fraud in the last election and somebody needs to do their homework. I did my homework it’s right here. (Senator Jason Schultz beamed at him like the parent that doesn’t realize his child is a jerk)

• In 2016 we had seven felons vote. (they all had IDs and may have been confused about their eligibility due to Governor Terry Branstad rescinding an executive order) 40 due to EDR irregularities (Election Day Registrations please don’t obfuscate) and one case on a school board where someone came in to vote and their vote had been cast already.

So 1.6 million votes cast. And I count 48 votes that are being called invalid in this statement so let’s say all 48 votes are false. So the percentage of votes that were cast fraudulently as 1.6 million is the whole = .003 percent. This is the justification for putting roadblocks to thousands of Iowans who are already struggling and will most likely but not all vote Democratic.

• How about investigating that so we can find out. (We already did that at huge expense. And how about quoting Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate in this rant)

• Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said ‘Every voter has under the right of the constitution to have his (their) vote fairly counted without having his (their) vote distorted by a fraudulent vote cast.

Okay we’ll play. Heres another of the amazing Justice Marshall’s quotes:

“On a matter so basic as the right to vote, for example, Negro slaves were excluded, although they were counted for representational purposes at threefifths each. Women did not gain the right to vote for over a hundred and thirty years. The 19th Amendment (ratified in 1920).

• I have a list of over 30 times you need to have a photo ID and it could have been a hundred. (this list is made up of actually nothing that is guaranteed by the constitution)

• I have so many emails from people pointing to the need for a photo ID that I could be here for hours. (We appreciate your discretion in this) But I’ll just pick a couple favorites I have. (a long list including flying, hotel rooms and hospitals. All things a poor person would never probably do. With the exception of a hospital. Federal Law says they have to take you in the emergency room.) And my favorite is being a Delegate at the Democratic Convention with Hillary’s name thrown in there for color. (Senator Schultz was beaming so much I had to squint my eyes at this point)

• So I called the city of Davenport. 3 percent of the population of Iowa lives in the city of Davenport. They had nine fireworks complaints in Davenport in five years yet my colleagues across the aisle would say there were many more than that many fireworks shot off.

Okay I get this point and it does make some sense. And while fireworks are responsible for fires from sparks on roofs and a lot of injuries I have always thought that in the country they are fine. And if city councils can regulate their boundaries knock yourselves out. But fireworks are not guaranteed explicitly under the constitution. And the magnifying lens we have on elections is very capable and quite a bit more thorough than following up on police complaints. The hysteria from a certain someone’s ego being bruised and conflating that with reality is the issue with voter fraud perception. And I heard it said today (and I’m paraphrasing) that whatever side of his mouth the Secretary of State is using he is complicit in this myth by the very law he is endorsing.

• Smith quoted Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Indiana voter ID case.
And at the time this was the opinion. But time has passed and both Texas and North Carolina have had very similar laws struck down as racially biased and discriminatory against Democrats.

Here is a look back on the lower court ruling and the author of the opinion’s comments with hindsight.

A district court and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit said the challengers had not proved their case; for one thing, they lacked a compelling portrait of people who had been denied the ability to vote.

(Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the panel’s opinion, has since said that he got it wrong and that the photo-ID requirement is “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”)

A later perspective from Justice John Paul Stevens.

“I learned a lot of things outside the record that made me very concerned about that statute,” Stevens said in the conversation with Justice Eleana Kagan and Bob Wood. “So I had the question: Should I rely on my own research or what’s in the record?”

“And I thought in that case I had a duty to confine myself to what the record did prove, and I thought it did not prove the plaintiffs’ case. And as a result, we ended up with a fairly unfortunate decision.”

So once again be careful who you quote. As we get older some of us do get a little wiser.

• In Georgia, 18,000 Hispanics voted in 2004. In 2008, 43,000 Hispanics voted, an increase of 140 percent.

(According to the US Census the Latino population in Georgia in 2000 was 435,227. According again to the US Census the Latino population in Georgia 2010 was 853,689. If you take the difference 418,462 the yearly average increase between 2000 and 2010 is 41,846.2. If you then multiply that by 4 to get the amount of influx to the state of Georgia Hispanics between the election cycles that makes a 167,384.8 Latino population increase in Georgia in the time span quoted. Voter Latino Organization was just getting going strong in the state. And also, Barack Obama was very motivating for some)

• In Georgia, 834,000 African-Americans voted in 2004. In Georgia, 1,200,000 African-Americans voted in 2008, an increase of 42 percent. (Barack Obama definitely energized the Black voters)

• White voters in 2004 2,300,000 votes. White voters in 2008 2,500,000 votes. An 8 percent increase.

Okay he is going down this road some more but I think we see how flawed this logic is. I would be interested in his source, though.

• The minorities actually increased under voter ID.

No the minorities actually increased in spite of voter ID, energized by the first-ever black man to run for president, Barack Obama.

• March 24, 2007. I wasn’t serving then. Let’s go into the journal of the senate.
Let’s take a look at HF653 (He lists all the supporters of HF653) all voted for this bill that was endorsed by the ACLU and the League of Women voters.

(That observation is telling in that the League of Women Voters above all else work diligently to increase and empower the vote. While civil rights, even when it is distasteful and the message is against the very principals it is in existence for the ACLU will defend. He is framing their endorsement in a very disingenuous way as the bill they were endorsing was not about voter ID. It was about being able to register and vote on election day. And a couple of Democrats took him to task for the cowardly way that he brought this up in his closing comments as a way to not be corrected. Their comments during points of privilege are below)

• HF653-It says election day registration. A person may establish by presenting to the precinct election official a current and valid (pause) Iowa drivers license or Iowa non driver identification card. You voted for voter ID ten years ago. What happened? Unbelievable. (He then tells a story about the flag in his yard and how his son mispronounces America as a miracle. And I think he is being genuine.)

• Not a single eligible voter will be tuned away. His last comment.

After the final vote to approve House File 516, senators were able to make personal points of privilege.

From Democratic Senator Pam Jochum’s remarks: “Senator Smith, I want to clarify something. You had a very passionate closing remark. But I need to set the record straight here. In 2007 I was the chair of the State Government Committee. I remember it well. It was my bill. What we voted for was election day registration. To allow an unregistered voter to go to the polls on election day and register to vote by showing some identification to have access to the ballot and casting that ballot that day. That’s what we did in 2007. Thank you.

After the vote, Senator Smith scurried out of the chamber, along with the majority of Republicans. I’m pretty sure they knew a rebuttal was coming. A real profile in courage.

Independent Senator David Johnson cut to the point as always, calling out the senators that fled before points of privilege could start.

Senator Herman Quirmbach explained to Senator Smith after the vote during the points of privilege what HF635 was about. It was about the first step in election day registration voting. It was also about anti bullying and protection for LGBTQ people. And he added that not a single Republican voted for it.

As it was a new concept and it had restrictions like a photo ID. Paraphrasing Senator Quirmbach: that bill did nothing of the kind to people that were already registered. (make them show photo ID) So Senator Smith’s representation of our vote (HF653) as supporting voter ID law was just a cheap shot. And the fact that he engaged on that in closing remarks on the bill was underhanded. If he wanted to contrast our vote on that bill he could have done it during regular debate on the bill when we could have engaged in dialogue and we would have been happy to correct his factual error. I hope we won’t have a repeat of that kind of performance in the future.

I have heard a few times this session very similar language in points of privilege. And it would be fair to say the offenders usually had left.

Profiles in courage and integrity.

Dallas County voter Matt Chapman watches Iowa legislative happenings closely. He testified against House File 516 at a public hearing on March 6.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.