Iowa passes bill requiring voter ID; heads to governor

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature has passed a bill that will require identification at the polls and reduce the number of early voting days.

The Senate approved the bill 28-21 Thursday. The House approved it earlier this month. It now heads to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has indicated he supports requiring ID to vote.

The legislation would require people to show acceptable identification at the polls beginning in 2019. The state must provide identification to people who need it.

Another provision will reduce early voting before a general election from 40 days to 29 days. It also eliminates a straight party voting option.

Republicans say the measure will maintain voter integrity, though there’s no evidence of widespread fraudulent voting in Iowa. Democrats say the legislation will suppress voter turnout and is unnecessary amid budget constraints.

In a statement, the ACLU of Iowa condemned the bill as leading to voter suppression.

The bill “includes measures calculated to harm voting in Iowa, including not only voter ID, but also unreliable and burdensome signature verification, cuts to early voting, and other provisions,” said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director. “Make no mistake: This is only the latest in a broad strategy to make it harder for qualified voters to vote and roll back decades of progress to expand participation in our elections by all eligible voters. Legislators have done so with the full knowledge that these laws will erect barriers to make it harder for people of color, senior citizens, and people with disabilities, in particular, to vote.”

Bettis said it is too early to know if the bill will be challenged in court as others around the country have, but the ACLU has not ruled out that strategy.

“Given the outrageous voter suppression we anticipate seeing as a result of the voter ID bill, we are of course looking very carefully at litigation possibilities.”