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IDs for cupcakes: College Republicans peddle baked goods to support voter ID bill

BY BETH BRATSOS | FEBRUARY 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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DES MOINES — College Republicans gave free cupcakes to lawmakers at the Capitol on Tuesday. All legislators had to do for the treat was present an ID.

"We're handing out cupcakes just to show how easy it is to show IDs," University of Iowa College Republicans President Kelsey Boehm said.

The display was meant to support legislation being pushed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz which would require voters to present a government- or school-issued IDs to vote. Under the legislation, voters wouldn't need IDs if a qualified adult vouches for their identity.

Schultz said Tuesday he is confident legislation will earn the Legislature's approval this year.

"This simple little ID is causing a lot of problems," Schultz told Iowa College Republicans as he held up his state driver's license. "If you have to show your ID for [other things], why not when you vote?"

Schultz, who proposed the bill in January, said the measures in the bill are important to reduce polling fraud and could potentially increase voter turnout.

"It doesn't suppress the vote; it has increased the number of people voting in states that have it," he said.

Natalie Ginty, the chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, said she has also seen statistics supporting increased voter turnouts, noting Indiana especially but pointing out that many states that just passed the laws recently do not have statistics yet.

A poll released this week by a Republican consulting firm 76 percent of Iowa voters support Schultz's proposal, while only around 20 percent oppose it.

But Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said he thinks the bill will suppress voter turnout.

"They are trying to sell it under the idea that there's voter fraud in Iowa," he said. "As I understand it, there has only been one case [of it] in 25 years. Voter fraud is not a big thing in Iowa."

Though Schultz said the bill does provide options for those less likely to have identification. Eligible voters who don't have a driver's license for any reason can obtain a free voter card. Elderly people will be allowed to show other forms, such as a Medicaid or Medicare card, and students will be allowed to use their student IDs, he said.

The UI Student Government recently passed a resolution opposing the bill.

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

If the bill passes, Schultz said schools will be given two years to get expiration dates on them. He also said he'd work with Iowa colleges to come up with an affordable plan for providing the new IDs.

Some legislators fear the bill would target the elderly, poor, or others who lack identification.

"We ought to be doing things that help people to vote, not make it harder," Bolkcom said.

He said he thinks the bill is discriminatory.

The bill introduced in January is slightly different from the one passed by House Republicans last year, which was never passed by the Senate. Schultz said his bill has been assigned a committee, and now he can only continue urging legislators to pass it.

"I'm willing to make changes and work [the bill] out with Democrats," he said. "But now it's up to the House or Senate to pass it."


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