Iowa lawmakers move voter ID proposal forward

DES MOINES – House Republicans moved forward Thursday with a proposal that would require Iowa voters to show photo identification at polling places.

Lawmakers in the House State Government Committee approved the legislation in a 12-8 vote, split along party lines. The measure is backed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who has filed identical bills in the House and Senate.

Schultz, a Republican, has made voter ID one of his key issues. GOP lawmakers largely support him, saying identification is needed to prevent fraud. Democrats say there is little fraud and claim Republicans want to discourage voting by minorities and the elderly, who may not have the required documents.

“This bill will do nothing to secure Iowa from voter impersonation. It will keep the poor, elderly, minorities, students away from the polls, those that vote Democrat,” said Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, who argued for 45 minutes against the legislation.

Rep. Dawn Pettingill, R-Mount Auburn, said the law would protect the state’s voting system.

“Seventy-one percent of the public has said they want this to protect integrity of the system to say their vote will count,” Pettingill said, citing The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll from early February.

Existing Iowa law doesn’t require voters to show photo identification. Republicans tried and failed to approve a photo identification law last year.