On the face of it, Iowa’s online voter registration system, scheduled to launch next week, should make it easier to participate in elections. But legitimate concerns have been raised over the system’s potential impact on the rights of the disadvantaged, and so far the state has been slow to respond. The new system will enable only those individuals who have a driver’s license or non-operator identification card issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation to take advantage of online voter registration. That’s a problem because, according to the DOT’s own estimates, roughly 145,600 eligible Iowa voters don’t have a license or ID card. This new process is also inconsistent with state law, which doesn’t require Iowans to be a licensed driver or to possess a DOT-issued ID card to exercise their right to register and vote in an election.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa argues that a system that excludes almost 7 percent of Iowa’s eligible voters — many of whom are veterans, elderly or disabled — is inherently unfair and could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The organization strongly supports online voter registration, but says the process needs to be open to all Iowans, and should be hosted on ADA-compliant websites.
The ACLU’s position is shared by the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Iowa and Disability Rights Iowa, which is a federally funded advocacy group for Iowans with disabilities and mental illness. Similar concerns have also been raised by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law.
Full Article: Editorial: Don’t exclude 145,600 from online registration.