Would the Iowa Elections 'Modernization and Integrity' Bill Make it Tougher to Cheat?

A House panel debated about whether the bill would, as Chairman Ken Rizer, R-Cedar Rapids, said, “make it easier to vote, harder to cheat and nobody will be turned away.”

by James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa / March 1, 2017

(TNS) — DES MOINES — Iowa is one of the top states in the nation when it comes to clean elections, and the Republican-controlled House State Government Committee is proposing an “Election Modernization and Integrity Act” its sponsor said will make it even better.

The committee, which briefly convened at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, but didn’t begin discussion until after 7:30 p.m., continued debating into the evening whether the bill would, as Chairman Ken Rizer, R-Cedar Rapids, said, “make it easier to vote, harder to cheat and nobody will be turned away.”

By requiring the use of technology such as e-pollbooks, already used by 72 of the state’s 99 counties, House Study Bill 93 “will make Iowa elections more efficient, more voter friendly and more secure,” he said.

Voting would be “as easy as going through the express line at Hy-Vee,” Rizer said.

Not quite, argued Rep. Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City, who said HSB 93 “makes huge changes” that would make voting cumbersome and disenfranchise the elderly, disabled and minorities.

“I cannot in good conscience support the amendment,” she said, referring to changes Rizer offered Tuesday.

His amendment would require the Secretary of State to create a public education program and a training program for pollworkers and eliminate straight-party voting. It also dropped a change in poll hours and changes in the absentee voting time frame, and the early voting time frame from an amendment considered earlier.

Iowa already ranks second in the nation in voter integrity, seventh in registration and seventh in turnout, Lensing said. Iowans should be proud of that and work to “make voting easy and accessible, not throw up more hurdles, which is what I see in this amendment,” she said.

“We have a system in place that works,” said Lensing, who noted county auditors don’t support the bill.

“Voting a right, not a privilege, and one that we should cherish,” she said. “Also one that should be simple so that we all can exercise that right.”

Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, have the votes to approve the bill, which must be get committee approval by Friday to remain eligible for consideration by the full House.

©2017 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.