A new voter registration form will be thrown out and rewritten after the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa warned it could confuse and potentially disenfranchise eligible voters. Iowa Secretary of State’s Office Legal Counsel Charlie Smithson said Tuesday his office had reviewed the ACLU’s arguments and agreed with its concerns. The Voter Registration Commission will rescind the rules enacting the new form, which is set to become the state’s official voter registration document on Aug. 1. In a petition presented to the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, the ACLU said the new form gives the mistaken impression that registrants must provide a state driver’s license or ID card number and their social security number in order to register. The law actually requires would-be voters to provide their social security number only if the registrant doesn’t have a state-issued ID.
That false impression could prompt some Iowans without IDs to abandon their attempts to register to vote, particularly in light of the ongoing and highly charged debate over requiring a photo ID to vote, the ACLU argued in a memo to the committee.
“We are especially concerned about elderly Iowans and others who lack a current driver’s license on non-operator ID,” ACLU attorney Rita Bettis wrote in comments to the committee. “We occasionally receive questions from voters who are confused as to whether Iowa has a photo voter ID requirement law, and who lack a current government issued photo ID.”
The group also contended that a question asking whether the registrant has ever been convicted of a felony was unnecessary, because a subsequent question asks whether, if convicted of a felony, the registrant’s voting rights have been restored.