A wide majority of Iowans believe it’s more important to ensure ballot access for eligible voters than to guard against voting by those who are ineligible. That result, captured in The Des Moines Register’s latest Iowa Poll, casts new light on a debate that has been raging in the state and across the nation for years over the appropriate balance between ballot access and security. Seventy-one percent of poll respondents say it’s more important that every eligible, registered voter is able to vote, compared with 25 percent who say it’s more important that no ineligible person “slips through the cracks” to cast a vote. “Americans care about preventing voter fraud, but they care more about making voting free, fair and accessible,” said Myrna Perez, an expert on voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
Voting-rights issues have long been seen as having a partisan bent, with Republicans supporting and pursuing photo ID requirements and other voter-screening measures at the ballot box, while Democrats push for early voting, same-day registration and other steps to drive turnout.
The poll results, though, show support for increased access regardless of party. Sixty-three percent of self-identified Republicans favor ballot access as more important against 33 percent who see security as the greater priority. Eighty-four percent of Democrats say it’s more important for eligible voters to vote, compared to 14 percent who say guarding against fraud is more important.