Voter ID and the 2018 election

Adam Kenworthy chairs the Iowa lawyer chapter of the American Constitution Society. -promoted by desmoinesdem

This post was originally supposed to be about Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s new FAQ page on the changes to Iowa’s voting law.

However, the Secretary of State’s Office just released a statement regarding its first round of mailings for Voter ID cards, and the more pressing issue is for all of us to be clear about what we need to do in 2018.

Here is what we need to know for the 2018 election: NO ID is REQUIRED. You will be asked to provide a photo ID, but if you don’t have one you can sign an attestation and vote a regular ballot. This DOES NOT mean that voters should refuse to bring or show an ID at the polls, because doing that will only gum up the process for everyone. Our goal needs to be to limit the time it takes to vote, and to limit confusion.

The ID provision of the new law does not go into effect until January 1, 2019. For 2018, the Secretary of State’s office is calling it a “soft” roll out, which is just a process to help push more confusion.

I may write a more lengthy post on the absurd propaganda piece that is the secretary of state’s FAQ page at a later date. But for now, let’s be clear and concise in what needs to be done and communicated. You don’t need the ID mailed by the secretary of state for 2018. So the important thing to remember is that no one be can turned away for lack of ID next November. But make sure to bring ID if you have it. Again, we want the process to move quickly at the polls.

What we need to work on now is getting people registered early. To register to vote in 2018, go HERE. You DO NOT NEED a state issued ID to register for 2018. You can mail in a registration.

To register or re-register through the Iowa Department of Transportation website, go HERE. YOU DO NEED a driver’s license number or state issued ID number to register through the DOT. REGISTER & VOTE.

In 2018 to register at the polls on election day, it is the same as before, you need a photo ID (doesn’t have to be a driver’s license, but must have an expiration date) AND you need to have proof of residency within the last 45 days. BUT, same-day registration should be a last resort.

We need to get as many people registered ahead of time. Do not wait until election day. This may have been nice in the past with longer early voting times, but now, with shortened times, confusion over ID’s and the law, don’t rely on registering at the polls. I highly doubt 2018 registration at the polling places will go smoothly. There will be lots of confusion and lots of misinformation. That is the point of these new provisions. Confusion breeds apathy and disengagement. Register early.

More importantly, if you’re reading this, your job is to get others registered. We need to stop this regressive talking point that people are lazy and bad if they don’t vote. It is our job, the engaged ones, to bring people in. Stop blaming. It doesn’t get us anywhere. Motivate people. “Why should I vote?” They ask. “Because they don’t want you to, and are counting on you not voting.” Should be our reply.

This is the issue. Any progress on policy positions first needs to come from the power of sheer numbers. More voters means more votes. We have the numbers.

Don’t focus on fundraising. Don’t focus on slogans, signs, parades and pomp. Get votes banked. That is the mantra into November. All organizing needs to focus on that.

Others will say the messaging needs to come along with it. Litanies of policy positions. Grand press coverage. “Reasonable” solutions. They are wrong. Most are well-meaning, but still wrong. We’re in unreasonable times. There is no good argument to be made. No honest debate to have. One side has made their values and intentions crystal clear. And they are moving forward with this vision.

We either embrace our strength in numbers, or fall prey to what Madison deemed the tyranny of the minority.

It’s up to us to meet the challenge.

Register and vote.

Top image: Prototype of new voter ID card that the Iowa Secretary of State’s office is mailing this month to 123,000 registered voters who do not have a driver’s license or non-operator ID.

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