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Concerns Over Online Voter Registration in Iowa

League of Women Voters of California

Republican Secretary of State-elect Paul Pate says he hopes to have the option for Iowans to register to vote online before the 2016 primaries. But at a public hearing  Tuesday in Des Moines, voter rights groups say it’s unfair.

The rule would let anyone with a state-issued driver’s license or photo ID logon to a website and register to vote. But voter rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa say the regulation needlessly ties electronic voter registration to state issued photo ID excluding many Iowans who are eligible voters. Secretary of State-elect Paul Pate says the concerns are legitimate.

“We start with what we can do today and clearly we can do the driver’s license," Pate says. "So lets get that moving, but if we’re going to use that as one of the vehicles to move this along. Let’s make sure we don’t do it in a way that we can’t add things on”

Pate takes over for outgoing fellow Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz on Thursday. The groups made their cases at a public hearing before a member of Schultz’s staff. 

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.