University of Iowa Democrats and Republicans weigh in on voter IDs


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UI Republicans: Require voter IDs to ensure democracy

Secretary of State Matt Schultz defeated a popular incumbent in 2010 based on a single issue — photo identification of Iowa's voters. Every day, Iowa citizens are required by law to use their IDs to apply for jobs, buy tobacco or alcohol, board planes, drive cars, and many other instances.

However, none of these activities are as crucial to our fair and open democracy as the act of voting — which somehow has yet to merit an ID.

Schultz's bill is simple — the ID must show the name of the individual, a photograph, and contain an expiration date. The Democratic political machine would like you to believe voter ID is a Republican plot meant to suppress students, the elderly, and the poor, but why let the facts get in the way of a good talking point?

Let's get the facts straight.

The Democrats pretend to be concerned with the poor's access to photo identification, yet proof of identity is required to apply for poverty programs such as food-stamps. Schultz's bill also takes careful steps to involve our state's poor by allowing individuals without accepted forms of ID to obtain a voter-identification card from the Department of Transportation free of charge.

The Democrats pretend to be concerned with limiting the elderly from voting, yet once again, photo IDs are required when applying for Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Most notably, the Democrats pretend to be concerned with limiting students from voting with our own University of Iowa Student Government passing a resolution opposing the secretary of State's bill. UISG complained the cost of adding expiration dates to our student IDs could be in the millions. (Disclaimer: not true)

But let's be realistic, with two years to implement the expiration dates, the university could easily add a six-year expiration date with little to no cost. Maybe UISG could focus on encouraging students to participate in our democratic process rather than prioritizing free cab rides for students. Heck, maybe even UI President Sally Mason could find it in her heart to donate her pay raise to assist in similar student causes — much like University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen.

Make no mistake, the Democrats will use any form of aggression to prevent Schultz from being successful in ensuring our democracy is strong — apparently even going so far as to steal his very identity. On Jan. 20, Zach Edwards, President Obama's 2008 Iowa new-media director in five states — and then an employee of Link Strategies, a Democrat-affiliated organization — was arrested for allegedly attempting to use the identity of Matt Schultz with the intent of falsely implicating Schultz in illegal or unethical behavior.

With examples like this, it only makes sense that Iowans support voter-ID requirements by 76 percent. Even the majority of Iowa Democrats polled support voter ID by 59.5 percent.

Over the last several years, many states have begun to require voters at the polls to present valid forms of photo identification before casting ballots in state-run elections. In both Indiana and Georgia voting turnout has increased substantially since implementing voter-ID laws. Georgia saw the second highest increase in turnout of any state in the country, with a 6.7 percent increase in 2008 from the 2004 elections. After Indiana implemented voter ID, Democratic turnout actually increased 8.32 percent, while Republican turnout went down 3.57 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Voter ID is not a partisan issue. We must protect the security and reliability of our elections. With the Iowa caucuses being determined by less than .028 percent, and many state House and Senate races being determined by razor-thin margins, we must verify the results to ensure the integrity of our process.

Unless, of course, there is something our state has to gain from widespread election fraud.

— UI College Republicans

UDems: Voter IDs would disenfranchise many and cost millions

The biggest problem with photo-ID laws is that they do not solve any tangible problem. Photo-ID laws, such as the one proposed by Secretary Schultz, are only used to prevent individuals from impersonating others.

According to the New York University Brennan Center for Justice, in the United States, occurrences of impersonating are rarer than getting struck by lightning. In addition, the Justice Department released an investigation of elections between the years 2002 to 2007. Out of 300 million people voting, prosecutors convicted only 86 people. Moreover, this investigation found no cases of voter impersonation. This type of fraudulent behavior is not a concern nationwide and especially in Iowa. Such restrictive laws on voting rights are obviously only worthwhile if they solve more problems than they create, yet this law would add unnecessary barriers to voting and have high costs for taxpayers — and the University of Iowa in particular.

This type of law would most directly affect the elderly, the poor, and students, populations who have more barriers to obtaining valid Iowa IDs. In order to execute said law, the government would have to ensure access to IDs for everyone, which would in turn cost Iowa taxpayers millions.

For example, a similar voter-ID law passed in Wisconsin that cost taxpayers nearly $6 million — those costs included a substantial education program, $2 million to cover additional employees at the Department of Transportation and the cost of free IDs.

In Iowa, a study by the Iowa State Association of County Auditors concluded that providing free photo IDs would cost the state of Iowa $420,660 per year. In order to solve the "Catch-22" problem wherein a voter needs a certified birth certificate in order to obtain a free photo ID but needs a photo ID in order to obtain a certified birth certificate, the state would also have to issue free birth certificates. This would costs $1,261,980 per year.

The cost of this law would also disproportionately affect students. Under this law, university IDs are only valid for voting if they include an expiration date, something that is not standard practice in our state and would require that IDs be updated before they are valid. Under the law in Wisconsin, the re-issuance of student IDs that did not comply with the new voter-ID law cost more than $1.6 million; a law in Iowa could potentially cost the university a similar amount.

Overall, this bill would be damaging to the state. The Brennan Center for Justice released a study that found that voter-identification laws "could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012" nationwide. Imagine the difference 5 million votes could make.

The University of Iowa Democrats do not believe that this legislation addresses a legitimate problem of voter fraud and believe that its effect would be detrimental to eligible voters, particularly students, and taxpayers.

— UI Democrats

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