GOP Senators Will Introduce New Voter I.D. Bill

Four-year-old Brynn Wilden (center) looks at her mother Janda's ballot as she accompanies her mother and father Matt and her brother Luke, 20 months, to the polling place at the Vinton Skate & Activity Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Vinton, Iowa. This is the first year that the Benton County community has consolidated voting precincts into one location. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Senate Republicans said Thursday they would introduce legislation requiring that Iowans present photo identification in order to vote.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said the law would protect the integrity of the voting system.

Existing Iowa law doesn't require voters to show photo identification. Although Democrats note Iowa has little history of voter fraud, Republicans argue the risk remains and identification should be required.

"I think it gives everyone voting full confidence their vote is going to count and that people who are voting are not doing it legally," Dix said.

The bill is modeled after similar legislation introduced by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Republican lawmakers said filing the Senate bill demonstrates their support for the idea.

Dix said Senate Republicans also support Shultz's use of federal agents and databases to investigate Iowans for voter fraud.

Democrats have opposed Schultz's proposal and investigations. They argue Republicans are motivated by a desire to discourage voting by groups who typically favor Democrats, such as immigrants, low-income people and the elderly.

"Senate Democrats believe Iowa already has the safest, most secure elections in the country," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, chairman of the State Government Committee, which oversees elections laws. "We believe Shultz' bills and similar versions do not pass the test of disenfranchising voters."

Republicans tried and failed to approve a photo identification law last year.

"Democrats again have been obstacle in making this become law for the people of Iowa," Dix said.

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