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Iowa judge upholds voter ID requirement, strikes other 2017 changes

By Sommer Brokaw
Iowa judge upholds voter ID requirement, strikes other 2017 changes
A judge in Iowa upheld a change to state law requiring voter ID at the polls but struck down other provisions. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A judge in Iowa has upheld a photo ID requirement in a 2017 state voting law, but struck other changes.

Fifth Judicial District of Iowa Judge Joseph Seidlin said in his ruling Monday that the photo ID requirement, which began last year as a result of a change to state voting law by a Republican-led legislature, did not violate the state Constitution.

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State lawmakers made a few main changes to the state voting law in House File 516, which then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law in 2017. The first was requiring voters to show certain forms of ID when voting at the polls. The second was requiring voters to provide a voter ID number when requesting an absentee ballot. And the third was authorizing county auditors to challenge or reject absentee applications and ballots based on signature matching.

He also upheld a provision requiring absentee voters to include a voter ID number, but noted that Iowa law states county auditors must fill out any missing information on ballot applications using state databases.

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Seidlin struck down the signature matching requirements, which he wrote, violated the Iowa Constitution, Iowa Public Radio reported.

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He also struck down a section of HF 516 that barred the secretary of state's office from issuing a voter ID card to people who appear in department of transportation records.

Plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 law caused an unconstitutional and disproportionate burden on elderly voters, poor voters and people of color while the state argued the law applied to all voters.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens, a Latino civil rights group, and Iowa State University student Taylor Blair, brought the suit against the Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate in May 2018.

"The ruling is a victory for election integrity," Pate said in a statement. "My goal has always been to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. Iowans have overwhelmingly voiced their support for Voter ID and this law ensures voters will be asked to provide identification before casting their ballot."

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