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Secretary of state kicks off voter education effort

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James Q. Lynch
The Gazette
Jan 10, 2018 

DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is launching a 99-county “Voter Ready” education effort to prepare Iowans for the soft rollout of the state’s voter identification law that goes into effect this year.

Already, 93 percent of Iowans eligible to vote are registered and 93 percent of them have driver’s licenses, which poll workers will begin asking voters to provide when they cast ballots. A U.S. passport, veterans and military ID, or a voter ID card issued by the Secretary of State Office also can be used as proof of identification.

The Secretary of State Office recently mailed 123,000 voter ID cards to eligible voters who were not included in a state Department of Transportation database of Iowans with driver’s licenses. The office received about 18,000 “return to sender” responses indicating those people have died or moved.

No voters will be turned away if they lack one of the forms of identification included in the law, Pate said. A voter who does not have an ID will be allowed to cast a regular ballot after signing an oath that swears to their identity. Voters also can have another registered voter attest to their identity.

One of the tools for educating the public will be a free, customizable toolkit of the educational materials. The toolkit was put together with feedback from with the League of Women Voters, NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, AARP, Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Iowa, all three political parties, college students, county auditors and others, Pate said.

“I appreciate Secretary Pate and his staff reaching out to groups like ours to provide input on how best to reach Iowa voters,” said Rik Shannon, public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, who joined Pate on Wednesday at a Statehouse news conference.

Groups that want to use the “Voter Ready” toolkits may request them at sos@sos.iowa.gov.