Fixed it for ya: An update and correction to Bobby Kaufmann's newsletter about Iowa's voter ID bill

Local activist Lauren Whitehead wasn’t fooled by an Iowa House Republican’s spin on House File 516, the voter suppression bill. See also John Deeth’s take on Kaufmann’s “worse than cynical” newsletter. -promoted by desmoinesdem

State Representative Bobby Kaufmann has made it clear that he is swamped with emails and other duties, so in the interest of participatory government, I’ve taken it upon myself to help him by correcting a few errors that appeared in his recent Your Capitol Voice newsletter, which focuses on the voter ID bill that is making its way through the Iowa legislature, because integrity is very important to him.

Please see below for the corrected version, and the text of the original at the bottom.

Your Capitol Voice (Fixed it for ya version)
Representative Bobby Kaufmann

This week I will focus my column on the recently passed Voter Identification Bill. This bill received a lot of attention from those who are both opposed and for the bill. I visited with many of you on this issue. In the end I voted for it. I have been crystal clear in the last four years that I favor showing a form of identification in order to vote, and thankfully, Iowa has an excellent reputation as a state in which voter registrant ID is confirmed, with extremely low voter fraud as reported by our very own Secretary of State, and is ranked #4 in state electoral integrity by the Electoral Integrity Project, an independent academic project based at Harvard and Sydney Universities. I want to misrepresent what the bill does so I can spread misinformation to you.

I want to start by recognizing that the right to vote is one of our most sacred fundamental rights. The right to vote is mentioned more in our Constitution than any other right. It is a right, however, that does not come without limits. For instance, you have to be 18 years old, an American citizen, an Iowa citizen, and either a non-felon or a felon who has had his/her rights restored. (Everyone agrees on this, and this is why Iowans who register to vote have to have evidence that is confirmed with the county auditor’s office.) Every Iowan who registers has their identity confirmed with the Iowa DOT and their address confirmed by the US Mail. This ensures that only Iowa residents vote, which we can all agree is the only way to conduct a fair election.

It is true that when Democrats controlled the Governorship and Legislature (2007-2010), they enacted a Photo Identification law that is still on the books. Democrats enacted same-day registration in Iowa and REQUIRED an ID be shown. That bill was supported by the ALCU and the League of Women Voters because it expanded the possibility for Iowans to register to vote in the 10 days before an election. The proof of identity in the form of a photo ID allowed auditors to confirm identity and skip the time-consuming verification process. Democrats enacted Photo ID law for same-day registrants and in the last 10 years there has been ZERO evidence of voter suppression for the precise reason that it expanded voting opportunities. This is different from the bill I voted for, which requires Iowans not only to use the typical identification process at the time of registration, but also to show an ID at the time of actual voting. This adds an expensive and unnecessary step that has been proven time and time again to suppress the votes of the elderly and minority voters in the USA (see Hajnal, et al, Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes, UCSD 2017). Please, ask me why I consider this so important!

That being said, we recognize not everyone has a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID. Under the bill we passed, the Secretary of State’s office will send the approximately 85,000 Iowans who do not have an ID a voter registration card with a bar code on it that can be scanned. Anyone who wishes to vote just needs to bring their card with them to the polls and they do not have to have an ID. Those 85,000 will receive their tax-payer funded card in the mail and do not even have to ask for it. Otherwise, this bill would be unconstitutional.

Indiana has language that is similar conceptually to ours and the highest court in the land has ruled it constitutional. In the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Indiana’s ID law, Supreme Court Justice Stevens said “there is no question as to the legitimacy or the importance of the state’s right to count only legitimate voters votes.” In the years since that ruling, Stevens has expressed doubts about whether he had all the information he needed to reach what he characterizes as an “unfortunate decision,” but I am ignoring that. Please see the May 15, 2016 article “Stevens says Supreme Court decision on voter ID was correct, but maybe not right” for more information.

Since Indiana is a great example of how Voter ID laws function, we have information about the cost to the taxpayer that this law imposes. Indiana estimated that they’d spend $13 to produce each “free” ID, for a total of 2-3 million in spending per year and over 10 million over 3 years. If you do the math, based on the figure of 85,000 Iowans lacking ID, a more accurate estimated cost for Iowa with be $1,105,000. I’m not including the costs of postage, increases in document fees, education, poll worker training and wages, and production of provisional ballots because that would make the cost even more accurate. You may ask yourself, how can we afford this given our non-existent state budget? Don’t worry—actual administration occurs primarily at the local level, so you can take care of it! Please see the report from the National Conference of State Legislatures about the cost of Voter Identification, which I have received multiple times from constituents but apparently have not read.

You can definitely rely on me to make sound spending decisions and prioritize Iowa families over ridiculous and petty partisan laws directed by out of state organizations who love to raise money for me. JK!

Finally, I want to address the question that was posed to me: Is this a solution in search of a problem? Because I haven’t really thought this through, I do not believe it is at all. You have to show your ID to get cough medicine at a pharmacy. Is voting any less important? Obviously not, but cough medicine is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, thus the analogy is laughable. I have had people tell me there are no reports of fraud. Of course there aren’t because we have not been checking in a uniform way and in some cases at all, except for the study completed in 2014 that cost the state over $250,000, conducted by then Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican. It is true and unfortunate that 41 felons voted in Iowa in 2016 that should not have. There have been state races recently that have been decided by as few as 8 and 13 votes Our voting process is too important to not proactively ensure its integrity to any degree possible, but I’m unwilling to look for creative solutions to resolve the small incidence of voter fraud and will instead impose an expensive program and that has been proven to discourage voting specifically of the elderly and minorities. The majority of states do this, just like they used to require poll taxes and literacy tests to vote, and just like segregation was on the books as law. Institutionalized discrimination IS the American way! Iowa could pave the way for alternatives to voter ID as a solution to the minor existence of voter fraud, but instead, our GOP leaders are intelligently turning to ALEC to write and propose laws that we will blindly pass. I am happy to lead that charge.

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Your Capitol Voice (original)
Representative Bobby Kaufmann

This week I will focus my column on the recently passed Voter Integrity Bill. This bill received a lot of attention from those who are both opposed and for the bill. I visited with many of you on this issue. In the end I voted for it. I have been crystal clear in the last four years that I favor showing a form of identification in order to vote. I want to explain why and explain what the bill does. There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there.

I want to start by recognizing that the right to vote is one of our most sacred fundamental rights. The right to vote is mentioned more in our Constitution than any other right. It is a right, however, that does not come without limits. For instance, you have to be 18 years old, an American citizen, an Iowa citizen, and either a non-felon or a felon who has had his/her rights restored.

I want to make one point very clear. Showing your ID in the voting process is NOT new to Iowa. When Democrats controlled the Governorship and Legislature (2007-2010), they enacted a Photo Identification law that is still on the books. Democrats enacted same-day registration in Iowa and REQUIRED an ID be shown. That bill was supported by the ALCU and the League of Women Voters. In the 10 years since Photo ID was enacted by Democrats, not one complaint has been levied that its caused suppression of a single person’s ability to register to vote. I want to repeat that because it is very important. Democrats enacted Photo ID law for same-day registrants and in the last 10 years there has been ZERO evidence of voter suppression.

The bill we passed last week extends the law Democrats passed to cover everyone that votes. That being said, we recognize not everyone has a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID. Under the bill we passed, the Secretary of State’s office will send the approximately 85,000 Iowans who do not have an ID, a voter registration card with a bar code on it that can be scanned. Anyone who wishes to vote just needs to bring their card with them to the polls and they do not have to have an ID. Those 85,000 will receive their card for free in the mail and do not even have to ask for it.

Voter Identification laws are already on the books in 34 states. The laws vary from state to state. In Iowa’s proposed law, the following are acceptable forms of ID:
-An Iowa driver’s license
-An Iowa Non-operator ID
-A U.S. Passport
-A Veteran or Military ID
-A Voter identification card issued by the Secretary of State.
Indiana has language that is similar conceptually to ours and the highest court in the land has ruled it constitutional. In the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Indiana’s ID law, Supreme Court Justice Stevens said “there is no question as to the legitimacy or the importance of the state’s right to count only legitimate voters votes.” Justice Stevens was one of the more liberal justices on the court.

There are two other components to the bill. HF516 implements the use of E-poll books to speed up the election process at polling locations and it eliminates straight ticket voting. Iowa is one of only 9 states that allow straight ticket voting.

Finally, I want to address the question that was posed to me: Is this a solution in search of a problem? I do not believe it is at all. You have to show your ID to get cough medicine at a pharmacy. Is voting anything less important? I have had people tell me there are no reports of fraud. Of course there isn’t because we have not been checking in a uniform way and in some cases at all. The fact of the matter is that 41 felons voted in Iowa in 2016 that should not have. There have been state races recently that have been decided by as few as 8 and 13 votes. Our voting process is too important to not proactively ensure its integrity to any degree possible. The majority of states do this and our “First in the Nation” caucus state, we should be taking the lead.

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