Judge Throws Out Parts Of 2017 Iowa Voting Law, Keeps Voter ID Requirement

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A Polk County judge has upheld a state law requiring Iowa voters to show an ID at the polls, but struck down provisions allowing signature matching for mail-in ballots and requiring absentee voters to provide an identification number when requesting ballots.

The Iowa Legislature, led by Republicans, made these changes to state voting laws in 2017. The League of United Latin American Citizens, a Latino civil rights group, challenged the laws in court along with an Iowa State University student.

At a trial that started in June, attorneys for LULAC argued the provisions unconstitutionally burden Iowans’ right to vote and disproportionately affect elderly voters, poor voters, and people of color.

Lawyers for the state argued the 2017 voting law changes apply to all voters in a uniform manner and advance the state interest of maintaining election integrity.

In a ruling dated Monday, Judge Joseph Seidlin wrote the requirement for voters to show an ID at the polls does not violate the Iowa Constitution.

But he struck down the section that prevents the secretary of state’s office from issuing a voter ID card to people who appear in department of transportation identification records. Seidlin said the law illegally treats people differently, and any voter who wants a voter ID card should be able to request one from the state.

Seidlin also struck down the provision allowing county auditors to reject absentee ballots if they think someone other than that voter signed the enclosed paperwork, writing that it violates the Iowa Constitution.

He also made permanent a temporary order preventing the rejection of absentee ballot applications that arrive without a voter verification number. Seidlin points out Iowa law states county auditors must fill in any missing information on ballot applications using state databases.

Either party may decide to appeal the ruling.

This post will be updated.