Online Voter Registration Causing Concerns for Iowans

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)– Earlier this year Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced Iowa will be the first state to have an entirely online sign-up process, but one group promoting individual rights said the system isn’t fair.

Currently in the state you are not required to have an ID to register to vote. With the online system, you are required to have a Department of Transportation issued ID. If not, you can request a registration form to be mailed to you from the same site.

At the Linn County Elections Office employees are looking forward to the new system.

“It’s always good to have another option for people registering to vote. We’ve had mail registration for years so people don’t have to appear in person. We’re already comfortable with that we know how to process those, we’ve had a relationship with the department of transportation for years,” Deputy Commissioner of Elections Tim Box said.

That relationship stems from the 1993 Motor Voter law that offers citizens a chance to register to vote when they receive or update their license. The elections office then receives that data and files it away.

Box said the new online system will help the office out with next year being an election year.

“The more we can get registrations in at a steady pace, as people are doing other transactions or when it’s convenient for them, it’s better for my office, as opposed to getting a steady stack of thousands in one day we can get them spread out over days and months as were building up to the presidential election,” Box said.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the system is unfair more than 150,000 members of Iowa’s population without an ID. The group voiced its frustration at the Voter Rights Commission meeting at the Secretary of State’s office, on their behalf. It believes they should have the same access to the system, or it should be simpler.

“Have one here in house at the secretary of state’s office, so that the 7% of people that can vote, but couldn’t do so through the DOT, can use this instead,” ACLU member Pete McRoberts said.

The Linn County elections office hasn’t seen the new system, but hopes to soon.