Nebraskans already use the Internet to pay bills, find driving directions and order replacement parts for their balky gas grills. In a few weeks, they will be able to register to vote online as well. Iowans won’t have too long to wait, either. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale plans to kick off the new online voter registration system in time for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22. He expects it will increase voter registrations, cut costs, improve the accuracy of voter records and make government more convenient for citizens. “We’re very, very excited to be part of a very significant nationwide change to improve voter registration and voter turnout,” he said.
Former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s two-year, $250,000 witch hunt ended ignobly Friday. Schultz’s successor, Republican Paul Pate, dropped his office’s Iowa Supreme Court appeal of a lower court ruling that held Schultz overstepped his authority in a crackdown on immigrant voters. Schultz had broad-based GOP support as a candidate condemning what he suggested was widespread voter fraud, particularly by documented immigrants who were not citizens. Schultz’s exhaustive investigation compared voter registration lists with federal and state immigration lists, including the federal database used to verify entitlement benefits. So instead of targeting the behavior based on evidence of unlawful voting, Schultz went hunting for voters he suspected might be immigrants.
Voter registration rules enacted by former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz that critics said threatened to disenfranchise eligible voters will not take effect, after a long-running lawsuit was resolved on Friday. The Secretary of State’s Office — now held by Paul Pate — voluntarily dismissed an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court that was initiated by Schultz last year following a loss at the district-court level. “This is an important victory for the protection of voters’ rights in Iowa,” American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis said in a statement. “It means that Iowans will not have to worry about the voter purges we’ve seen take effect in other states with a disastrous impact, especially for new U.S. citizens and Latinos.” By declining to continue the appeal, the state has effectively concluded the lawsuit and allowed the lower-court ruling to stand. That means the rules will never take effect.
A bill allowing Iowans who don’t have a drivers license or state-issued I.D. to register to vote online is moving to the Iowa Senate floor for a vote, after the Senate State Government Committee approved it Wednesday. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is currently working on allowing online voter registration for Iowans with an I.D., but Senator Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) says that would leave out about seven percent of the state’s population. Given modern technology and security standards, he says it’s safe and possible to allow Iowans without an I.D. to still register to vote online.
As Iowa’s Secretary of State works to implement online voter registration, the Iowa legislature weighs in. A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate is considering a bill that allows voters to provide their birth date and a unique identifying number, like the last four digits of a Social Security number, to register to vote online. Voters would then verify their identity with an electronic signature. Sen. Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, suggested adding a provision for photo I.D. to increase security, but Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Waterloo, says that’s not necessary.
Iowa: Legislative panel aims to make online voter registration available to more Iowans | The Gazette
A Senate legislative panel Tuesday began work on a measure designed to make online voter registration available to more Iowans beyond the upgrade being planned by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is working on a system with the state Department of Transportation that will offer the electronic registration option to anyone with a valid Iowa driver’s license or a state-issued identification card. However, Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, leader of a Senate State Government subcommittee, said Senate Study Bill 1152 would expand the online registration option to eligible voters who do not have access to a computer or face other challenges. He estimated that represented 7 percent to 9 percent of eligible Iowa voters.
Iowans soon will have the opportunity to register to vote online, provided they have a driver’s or state-issued operator’s license, thanks to a rule approved Tuesday by a state commission. The five-member voter registration commission unanimously approved a new rule that uses the transportation department’s database to allow state residents with government-issued identification to register to vote online. The Secretary of State’s Office said it hopes to have the program in place in time for the 2016 elections, which will include an open-seat race for the White House. “This is obviously another major step toward the goal we all share … to encourage as much (voter) participation as we can. This is one more step toward that,” Secretary of State Paul Pate said. “We’re going to be very aggressive and work with the DOT. That’s what this really is about, so we can keep the timetable moving.
Online voter registration could be available to Iowans in early 2016 following the approval of new state rules Tuesday. The Iowa Voter Registration Commission voted unanimously to adopt rules establishing an online registration system that we be maintained by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The move allows the DOT to begin developing the system, with plans to make it available to would-be voters by the first quarter of 2016. That might be after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, but well before next year’s primary and general elections. … Because the system will rely on electronic signatures on file with the DOT, online registration will be available only to Iowans with a driver license or non-operator ID. More than 90 percent of eligible voters have a state-issued ID card, Secretary of State’s Office officials said Tuesday. All other means of voter registration will remain available with the introduction of the online form.
Qualified voters with a state driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation will be able to register to vote online by the 2016 primary election if a new regulation is approved by a state commission, Iowa’s incoming top election official said Tuesday. The Iowa Voter Registration Commission held a public hearing Tuesday on a rule that would let qualified voters with a driver’s license or photo ID register to vote on a website. Currently, voters registering or updating their information must fill out a paper application form. Secretary of State-elect Paul Pate, a Republican who takes office in January, said he hopes to have the online system running for those in the DOT system by the primary election in June 2016. “My goal is, well before the next election cycle we would have this in place on some level, and keep expanding on it as we have the resources to do that,” Pate said.
Iowa’s incoming Secretary of State expects a new online voter registration program to be ready by the time Iowans vote on the next president. That program likely will require state-issued photo identification. The state’s Voter Registration Commission met Tuesday morning to receive public comments on a proposed rule that would allow Iowa residents to register to vote online. Initially, users will need state-issued photo identification to use the program. Paul Pate, who was elected in November, will continue the work of outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz to implement the online registration program, which Pate hopes to have implemented in time for the 2016 elections. “My goal is well before the next election cycle we would have this in place at some level and keep expanding on it as we have the resources to do that,” Pate said.
Incoming Secretary of State Paul Pate says allowing Iowans to register to vote online will be a top priority when he takes office next month. The effort is already underway, and online registration should be available before next fall’s local government elections, he said. Pate, a Republican, will succeed Matt Schultz as the state’s top elections administrator after winning a statewide election in November. The transition opens a new chapter for an office that was at the center of several legal and political fights over the last four years. In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the secretary-elect outlined several elections-related priorities as well as improvements to the office’s business registration functions. His ultimate goal, he said, is to increase access to the polls and voter participation while maintaining ballot security. “All elections offices in the country really have to work harder at keeping the technology updated and balancing out participation with integrity,” he said.
A task force created to fix errors in Iowa’s database of ineligible felon voters met once for two hours, failing to resolve a problem that has disenfranchised at least a dozen people, records show. Secretary of State Matt Schultz formed the group in April after finding 12 cases in which errors on the 50,000-name list resulted in the wrongful rejection of ballots from non-felons or people who had their voting rights restored. Schultz said the panel would develop a “long-term solution to fix inaccuracies contained in the state’s felon file. More than four months passed before the group held its first and only meeting Aug. 29, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press under the public records law. “If we get done early, so be it,” then-Secretary of State general counsel Charlie Smithson emailed members before the meeting, scheduled for four hours.
Newly elected Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said Tuesday he is anxious to make changes to improve the state’s voting system. He expects the upgrades will require money and new technology to achieve. Pate is a former state senator who served as secretary of state from 1995 to 1999 and defeated Democrat Brad Anderson in the Nov. 4 election. He said he wants to expand use of computer-based poll books used in 66 counties to move voters through polling places more quickly and strengthen election security. Under his plan, Pate would tie the voter registration data to the Iowa Department of Transportation driver’s license database, which includes a bar code, photo and signature for additional verification. “It won’t happen overnight, but it has to happen,” said Pate, who discussed his ideas with about 30 Polk County Republicans at a breakfast meeting Tuesday.