Pate, Widmer to host round table discussion on election changes

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


With several changes in the election laws planned during the coming year, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer will host a Voter Ready Round Table discussion to ensure people fully understand Iowa?s new election laws.

Widmer said Wednesday he did not believe Pate would personally be at the meeting, but representatives from his office would attend to discuss the new laws. Issues covered will include the need for identification from voters and how many days before an election can people vote absentee. The meeting will include a few minutes of explanation of the new laws and then allow plenty of time for questions.

?They have been doing these throughout the state and I?m so glad they are getting to us,? Widmer said. ?With legal action taking place and the Iowa Supreme Court involved, hopefully we can get this ironed out so everyone knows what the requirements are.?

During a recent decision from the Iowa Supreme Court, auditors are barred from rejecting absentee ballots if they believe the signature doesn?t match the signature on record; voters are not required to provide and ID number of applications for absentee ballots; early voting days was restored from 29 to 40 days.

While the meeting is by invitation only, Widmer said anyone interested in attending should contact him and he would try to get them in. The event will happen at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 in the supervisors? chambers at the Washington County Courthouse.

People being invited to the meetings are asked to brief others on the election laws. People attending the meeting will include the Washington County political party chairs, media, farm bureau members, and poll workers.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, Iowa voters will have to show a form of identification to be allowed to vote. Widmer believes this will be an easy change, saying if someone brings their driver?s license, they will be allowed to vote. The Nov. 6 general election will mark what Widmer calls a ?soft rollout? of the new laws and people will be required to provide ID. He said another option in November, if someone does not have ID with them, is to sign an oath attesting to who they are.

Widmer stressed this would not be a debate of the laws nor a rally to express political viewpoints. He said the idea is to inform officials of how the new laws will impact elections.

?People are always afraid of the unknown,? Widmer said. ?This is being done to decrease that unknown portion so people won?t stay away from the polls because they are concerned about the new laws. It?s like when you play a game ? you are going to feel more comfortable if you know the rules.?