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Iowa House committee takes up voter ID bill

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 11:47 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — Speakers at a legislative hearing criticized a bill backed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz that would require voters to show photo identification at polling places.

Schultz has filed identical bills in the House and Senate, and Tuesday’s House hearing was the first time this session lawmakers have taken testimony on the proposal.

Members of the Iowa League of Women Voters told lawmakers a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise voters who don’t have required documents. They also say the rules could slow vote-counting.

Anthony Carroll of AARP says the law would have a disproportionate effect on older Iowans who are forced or choose to give up their drivers licenses and may not have a replacement photo ID.

“(Voting) is not a travel privilege, a driving privilege or a privilege and means to buy liquor,” Carroll said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Charlie Smithson, legal counsel to Schultz’ office, says the bill eliminates use of property tax statements and leases as proof of residence because these documents are too easy to produce fraudulently.

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 tend to favor Democrats.

Subcommittee Chair Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, reluctantly agreed to hold another subcommittee hearing to gather additional public input on the bill.

“I want to move it to committee because I want to get it off my desk,” Pettengill said after Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, asked why she felt the need to rush the bill to full committee.

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