By Craig Robinson
A resent TIR-Voter/Consumer Research Poll shows that 68 percent of Iowans favor legislation that would require voters to show a photo I.D. before being allowed to vote in elections. The survey of 500 registered voters conducted between September 23rd and 25th, shows that 69 percent of Iowans support voter I.D. requirements, while only 29 percent disapprove of the measure.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz made voter I.D. legislation the centerpiece of his 2010 campaign. Despite wide public support, Schultz’s efforts to pass a voter I.D. law have been stymied by the Democrat controlled Iowa Senate. The Republican controlled House of Representatives has passed a voter I.D. bill, but the Democrat controlled Iowa Senate refused to even bring the proposal up for debate.
Despite being opposed by Democrat leadership and some County Auditors, the voter I.D law has wide and deep support among Iowans. The TIR/VCR poll shows that of the 68 percent who favor the law, 54 percent strongly support the measure. While almost 90 percent of Republicans support voter I.D. Legislation, so do 70 percent of independents, and 43 percent of Democrats.
Democrats typically oppose voter I.D. laws because they contend the law would disproportionately affect minorities, low-income, and elderly voters. They also argue that obtaining a photo I.D. can be a difficult and costly process. Democrats also question the Republican argument that the voter I.D. laws are necessary tools to fight voter fraud. Democrats insist that the Republican claims of vote fraud are over stated.
The argument that voter fraud doesn’t exist in Iowa has been weakened recently. In the last month, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation has charged five individuals with election fraud. One instance involves three individuals from Pottawattamie County who are non United States citizens and who participated in the 2010 and/or 2011 elections. Another instance involved two previously convicted felons who registered to vote while obtaining state issued driver’s licenses or identification cards.
Democrat State Senator Tom Courtney has tried to block the Secretary of State’s office from funding DCI investigations with federal funds, but Schultz insists this his office’s use of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds are legitimate uses. Despite the ongoing battle between Senate Democrats and Schultz, the five cases in which the DCI have investigated and filed charges prove that voter fraud exists in Iowa. These charges will likely only bolster the public’s support of voter I.D. laws.
Regardless of the public’s support of voter I.D. laws, Iowa Democrats and some in the media have used the issue to criticize Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Democrat Legislative leaders like Sen. Courtney take every opportunity they can to question the actions of Schultz’ office. The Des Moines Register even poked fun at Schultz when it’s poll found that 50 percent of Iowans didn’t know who he was.
What the Democrats and the people at the Des Moines Register don’t quite grasp is that the public’s support of a voter I.D. if far more important to Schultz’s political future than his own name identification. While 50 percent of Iowans didn’t know enough about Shultz to give an opinion of him in the Register’s poll, poor name ID is not uncommon for statewide officeholders or even members of congress.
The TIR/VCR poll showed that 47 percent of Iowans were unaware of Congressman Bruce Braley. Thirty-Seven percent of Iowans were not aware of Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Even 24 percent of Iowans were unaware of Congressman Steve King. Schultz’s name ID is meaningless, but his push for an Iowa voter I.D. law is not.
What deserves further examination is why Iowa Democrats continue to oppose voter I.D. when the public is clearly for it, and the recent DCI investigations indicate a clear need to fight fraud at the ballot box.
This is the fifth TIR/VCR poll that has been conducted in Iowa. The poll has a strong history of accurately portraying the thoughts and opinions of Iowa voters. Dr. Jan van Lohuizen, founder and president the Houston, Texas, based Voter/Consumer Research, conducted the poll of 500 registered voters by live telephone interviews between the dates of September 23, and September 25, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.
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