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UISG passes resolution to oppose House voter ID bill

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | FEBRUARY 08, 2012 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa Student Government officials say a statehouse bill could harm student voters in the upcoming election.

UISG officials proposed a resolution Tuesday night declaring opposition to a voter-ID bill.

"[The Iowa Voter ID bill] will have a severely negative impact on University of Iowa students," UISG President Elliot Higgins said.

The bill — based on a proposal by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz — states that in order to vote in the 2012 election and subsequent elections, voters will need to present valid IDs.

Higgins said the bill has the potential to stifle UI student voices.

The bill could possibly make all UI ID cards invalid because the cards do not have an expiration date displayed. Should the bill pass, the UI would have to reprint and re-distribute all ID cards.

"It could potentially cost the university millions of dollars if it suggests that university IDs are only valid if they have an expiration date," Higgins said. "That cost could trickle down to students."

Though some of the bill's details are still being decided, the requirement for photo IDs is being rejected by several legislators.

The bill is similar to a voter-ID law passed in Wisconsin in May 2011, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. The UISG resolution stated that bill cost Wisconsin taxpayers a combined $8 million in education and Department of Transportation fees, and the Iowa bill could rack up similar expenses.

According to the Fort Wayne, Ind., news station Wane.com, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was found guilty last week of felony voter fraud charges after he voted in a May 2010 primary while being registered to a different address than his place of residence. Indiana's voter-ID law is similar to the bill in Iowa.

Some UISG officials said the bill could hinder student voter turnout.

"It's a waste of taxpayer money because it requires all to get IDs when they vote," said UISG Sen. Greg Branson, who introduced the opposing resolution at the meeting. "We don't want to suppress voter turnout, especially with the students."

Some UISG senators in the meeting echoed Higgins' and Branson's viewpoints as the resolution was brought up for debate.

"There's no reason to require someone to have an identification card," said Sen. Matt Tarnoff.

The bill's resolution was heavily debated during the meeting. Some senators said the resolution was necessary.

"It wouldn't be that big of a detriment to students right now," said UISG Sen. Michael Dickinson.

However, he did not elaborate on his views.

Following further discussion, the resolution passed.

In addition to the opposition to the Iowa voter-ID bill, UISG senators discussed a bill in support of peaceful protest. The bill would guarantee students their First Amendment rights in light of the pepper-spray incident at the University of California-Davis protests this past fall. After the removal of a clause, the bill passed.


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