By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate visited Washington Friday afternoon to give a presentation on changes in the Iowa voting laws to a group of election officials at the Washington County Courthouse.
Pate said he and his staff are giving a series of round-table discussions in all 99 counties in Iowa to clarify changes to the Iowa voting code. With about two months until the Midterm elections, Pate said it is important officials know the most current information that is going on with voting. He said Iowa is in the top six states in the nation as far as voter participation.
?Iowans vote,? he said. ?They follow elections. They are very involved and very engaged. This is something we can be proud of, but it also means our work is harder because it means we have to make sure they are comfortable and successful in voting.?
He recognized the auditors in all 99 counties, saying they run the best customer service network he has seen. He also recognized the precinct workers, calling them ?the people on the front line.?
Pate explained this year there has been a ?soft rollout,? meaning it is not mandatory, of the new election ID law. This is to give voters time to get comfortable with the new voter requirements. He said beginning in 2019, voters will have to present identification before getting their ballot. He showed a poster of the IDs that can be accepted to allow people to vote, which prominently included a driver?s license. It also included a voter ID card, which can be issued to people who don?t have a driver?s license.
He also said that absentee voting now begins 29 days before the election. The reason for the time, he said, is most candidates are only ramping up their campaign 29 days before the election. Pate commented in the past people wishing to vote absentee had to have a specific reason why they would not be able to come to the polls. The trend now is 40 percent of people vote absentee.
?It does take a lot of pressure off on Election Day, but election staff has to work to ensure integrity,? he said.
Pate also touched on online voter registration, saying Iowa is one of the few states that has this. He said the state is doing it as a way to encourage people to vote. He also said the registration gives the auditor?s office more time to confirm the information than people registering at the polls. In 2016, over 100,000 people used this form of registration.