One of the arguments Democrats use in their opposition to photo ID requirements for voting is that there is no proof voter fraud is a problem in Iowa. Secretary of State Matt Schultz says that proof is on the way. Investigations into voter fraud are ongoing.
“We will be showing that there are cases of voter fraud in Iowa,” Schultz told TheIowaRepublican.com. The Secretary of State was one of 25 attendees Wednesday evening at a panel discussion about Voter ID organized by the Iowa Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former FEC commissioner, advocated for Voter ID. Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, gave the opposing viewpoint.
Von Spakovsky provided evidence that voter turnout actually increased in states that passed Voter ID laws. “The idea it will suppress the vote has been disproven in two very important places: the courtroom and the polling place,” he said.
Following passage of a Voter ID law in Georgia, a record number of voters turned out for the 2008 election. The number of Democrat voters increased by 6.1 percent, and the share of the vote from blacks increased 25-30 percent from 2004. Additionally, the turnout of black voters in Georgia in the 2010 elections rose over 2006, when there was no Voter ID law. Indiana also experienced increases in voters following passage of a similar law.
Ben Stone argued that the record turnout in 2008 and increased totals in 2010 in Georgia and Indiana are meaningless. “Unless you can isolate all the other factors, statistics don’t mean a thing,” Stone said. “You can’t say that those statistics prove anything.”
Georgia’s Voter ID bill overcame extensive court battles, including a challenge from the state’s Democratic party. “After two years, they could not come up with a single witness, not one person, who could not come up with a photo ID,” Von Spakovsky said.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law in a 2008 ruling, with a 6-3 decision. Liberal Justice John Paul Stevens penned the lead opinion. He stated, “Not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.” Stephens added that states have a “valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process” and disputed claims that photo ID requirements place an undue burden on voters.
Ben Stone used his elderly father as an example of someone whose vote would be suppressed if Iowa passed a Voter ID law. “My father is in a nursing home. He does not have a current photo ID. He has not driven a car in four years. People in nursing homes have other things to worry about than going to the motor vehicle division,” the ACLU director argued. “It does have the effect of suppressing.”
Following the panel discussion, Secretary of State Schultz said the Voter ID bill he proposed offers a simple solution for people like Stone’s father. “Ben Stone’s dad would be able to vote under my bill. His dad can sign an affidavit under my bill that would allow him to vote.” Schultz added that his Voter ID bill would even allow Ben Stone to attest for his father at the polling place. “I wish they’d just read my bill. It solves all of their issues.”
Stone used statistics to show a significant number of Americans do not own a government-issued photo ID. “There is polling data, survey data…that demonstrates that as many as 21 million Americans do not have current valid photo IDs,” Stone said. “Up by 25 % of African-Americans don’t have these. A lot of poor people, homeless people have no photo ID.”
Hans von Spakovsky countered that there is no evidence that Voter ID laws prevented people from legally voting. “This constant talk that the poor aren’t going to be able to do it…If they want to apply for Medicaid or food stamps, they’re going to have to have a photo ID,” he said.
Matt Schultz liked what he heard from Mr. Von Spakovsky. “I think Hans summarizes very succinctly the arguments on why you should have Voter ID,” Schultz said. “One of the strongest points is that although you can’t prove voter fraud in many cases because you don’t have surveillance, you also can’t prove that people won’t be able to vote under these bills.”
Another issue raised by Ben Stone during the panel discussion was the lack of evidence that voter fraud is widespread. Von Spakovsky encouraged attendees to view the Republican National Lawyers Association’s website. It shows voter fraud cases in 46 states, including Iowa. The site also notes that the list is not a comprehensive one.
The Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate refuses to even debate Schultz’s Voter ID bill in committee. It’s an issue that Schultz campaigned on throughout 2010 and has continued to push since becoming Iowa’s Secretary of State. Despite the obstacles, he refuses to give up the fight for the Voter ID bill. “All it does is give me more energy to go talk about this issue,” Schultz said.
Iowa and national polls show the majority of people, even the majority of Democrats, agree with Matt Schultz on the Voter ID issue. If the ongoing investigations of voter fraud in Iowa result in convictions, the rising tide in favor of this law could eventually be too much for Democrat legislators to overcome.
- Iowa Democrats Favor Photo ID Requirements to Vote (theiowarepublican.com)
- Gronstal: Voter ID bill not leaving Iowa Senate (Omaha.com)
- Iowa voter ID bill back with a twist (QC Times)
- Former Obama Staffer Busted for Stealing Iowa Secretary of State’s Identity (theiowarepublican.com)
- Schultz Blasts Senate for Killing Photo ID Bill (theiowarepublican.com)
- Georgia Voter-ID Law Upheld (National Review)
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