Iowa Secretary of State proposes voter ID legislation

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Want to vote in Iowa? Make sure to bring your ID.

That could be the future if Secretary of State Paul Pate gets his way. The Republican announced voter ID legislation in Des Moines, Thursday afternoon.

Pate said it's a comprehensive bill that aims to shore up election integrity in the state. He put it this way, "make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat".

The bill would call for all registered Iowans to have a voter ID in order cast a ballot at polling sites. A drivers license, passport, military ID would work. For voters without those, the state will issue a free voter ID card.

All precincts would be required to have electronic poll books where voters swipe ID cards and then verify signatures. After, ballots can be cast.

When voting absentee, voters would need a voter ID number to request a ballot. Pate said that'll come from the same ID card a voter would take to the polls.

Voters will also have fewer days to request a ballot, only 120 days before an election. Currently, voters can ask for one at the beginning of an election year.

Pate's legislation comes only months after he touted Iowa's election system, calling it one of the best and cleanest in the country. At the time, Presidential Nominee Donald Trump had been saying the nation's electoral process was rigged.

Pate told journalists Thursday he has as much confidence in the state's system as he did-- he just wants to instill that confidence in the voters.

"I believe Iowa's elections are clean and fair," said Pate. "But, we need to take steps to keep them that way. It's like locking the door at your home when you leave for work in the morning or you go to bed at night."

Democrats are already lining up against the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) said it'll likely put up more barriers to voting and drop turnout.

The legislation would cost about a million dollars to get up and running. Though Republicans control the legislature, finding funding may be tough. Slowing revenue growth has the state likely facing a $96 million shortfall for the current budget year, according to finance experts.

Pate would like to have the legislation approved and enacted before the 2018 election, but said it was likely the bill won't get the funding support it needs to be ready in time. He was more optimistic the changes would be in place for the 2020 election cycle.