Using Iowa's property taxes to solve a non-existent problem

Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese weighs in on how the Republican voter ID bill, House File 516, will affect county budgets, and by extension property taxpayers. The bill is pending in the state House, after GOP senators passed a different version from the bill approved earlier in the lower chamber. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Voter fraud in Iowa, and more specifically voter impersonation, is so statistically insignificant that it is essentially non-existent. It has zero impact on the outcome of our elections. None. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.

Requiring voters to show ID at their polling place accomplishes exactly nothing to protect the integrity of the election. There is one thing it does accomplish, however: lower voter turnout, especially among minorities and the elderly. That is among the reasons why the Supreme Court blocked North Carolina’s version of the law ahead of last fall’s general election, and why it would likely do so with the Iowa proposal.

Before it comes to that, though, House File 516 will raise your property taxes in order to solve a non-existent problem.

Normally when we hear the phrase “unfunded mandate,” we hear it from governors complaining that congress is forcing them to enforce a law without providing funds to the states to do it. But this action happens on the next rung down the ladder as well when legislators in Des Moines decide to do something the county governments have to pay for.

According to a conservative estimate from the Johnson County auditor’s office, if enacted this bill would initially cost the taxpayers of Johnson County $151,425.00 in new equipment and education. It will cost most other counties more because we already have some of the equipment, but just using our county as a basis, multiplied by Iowa’s 99 counties that comes to just shy of $15 million in new tax askings statewide. To accomplish nothing. And that’s before the additional estimated ongoing costs of $37,000.00 for a county-wide election, and roughly $4,500.00 in replacement IDs each year.

If you are a Republican legislator, though, or a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (which is usually the same thing), it’s a worthwhile investment, because it helps keep you in office. Voter ID laws drive down turnout, and generally speaking, lower turnout results in Republican wins, and higher turnout leads to Democratic wins. This is not a sure-fire lock, but the tendency is clear and the Iowa Republican party, who controls state government, knows it.

So does the Montana Republican party, by the way. That is why they are trying to stop vote-by-mail there. In their upcoming special election to replace newly-tapped Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, who was their lone representative in congress, the Republican Secretary of State recommended using vote-by-mail because it is cheaper and because in Montana some people have to drive great distances to get to their polling places. Voting by mail means higher voter turnout for less money. Montana Republican Party chairman and state Rep. Jeff Essmann, (R-Billings), knows this. He sent a letter to party members wherein he told them a mail-in election would “give the Democrats an inherent advantage,” and that they should therefore oppose this cheaper and more effective method.

This is all about the ALEC agenda, which is funded by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for (their own) Prosperity. ALEC and their Republican foot soldiers know what they are doing. Lofty platitudes such as “Elections are the backbone of a representative republic, every election is important,” offered by Iowa Sen. Roby Smith (R-Sanctimony), the floor manager of the bill in the senate, are not enough to disguise what they are up to. This is plain ol’ party power politics.

They will tell you that you have to produce an ID to do so many other things, what’s the problem with doing it when you vote? While it’s true one must show an ID to buy alcohol, we do that to protect our youth. It has a useful purpose. What would you think if you also had to do it to buy a head of lettuce? You would think it was ludicrous, and you’d be right, because it accomplishes nothing. The same is true with showing your ID when you vote. It solves a problem that simply does not exist, and if it prevents even one person from voting, that is unconstitutional disenfranchisement at taxpayers’ expense, not to mention useless additional bureaucracy from “the party of small government.”

Cross-posted from Kurt Friese’s blog.

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