Liberals Look Gift Horse in Mouth as Iowa Moves to Enact Online Voter Registration

Iowa’s Voter Registration Commission is poised to adopt a rule that will allow the state to enact online voter registration for individuals who have a driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. By the National Conference of State Legislature’s count, Iowa would be the 22nd state to offer online voter registration.

It appears that the commission has the legal authority to enact the rule as opposed to when Minnesota Democrat Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unsuccessfully attempted to enact online voter registration without authorization from state legislature. Typically, we have seen state legislatures authorize online registration.  


Both the outgoing and incoming Republican Secretaries of State support the measure and it appears that it should be implemented in time for the 2016 election.


The Commission met today and heard from liberal groups that are already looking the gift horse in the mouth, complaining that the proposed online registration system shuts out some of Iowa’s voters:

"Voting should be made easier for all Iowans," said Joe Henry, state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa. "We are not in support of a photo identification requirement which we believe would make voting more difficult for low-income people."Henry said more than one-third of Iowa's Latino population lives in poverty, which makes it less likely they drive or have a DOT-issued photo ID.

Another group affected by the ID requirement would be college students from other states who haven't obtained an Iowa driver's license, said Lina Murken, president of the League of Women Voters of Ames.

"We found that the DOT will not allow somebody who holds an out-of-state driver's license to get an Iowa ID or driver's license without relinquishing their out-of-state license," she said. "That would be a problem for those folks. It would be impossible for them to get the ID that would allow them access to the system."

While the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa supports online voter registration, the group wants changes to the regulation that would allow people without the photo ID to use the online system to register using other identification including the last four digits of their Social Security number, said Erica Johnson, Immigrants' Rights and Racial Justice Advocate for the group.

"There are safe, secure, effective ways to uniquely identify voters besides driver's numbers assigned through the DOT," she said.

The last line is particularly troubling as RNLA is skeptical that online voter registration can be secure when the system is untethered from an official state database such as the DMV. Would-be-voters in the DMV database have had to prove their identity in-person and possess the necessary unique credentials to be able to complete a voter registration transaction online without the risk of fraud. It's possible other state databases could be used but the technology does not appear to be there yet. 


RNLA supports online voter registration, subject to preconditions outlined in its report on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA). However, certain security and integrity measures need to be in place. Liberal groups ignore that the existing paper and NVRA-based voter registration system will continue in its present form, offering all eligible voters ample opportunity to register to vote. We simply cannot water down online voter registration at the risk of opening up the system to fraud. It is good to know that Iowa is moving forward on the right path.


Liberal complaints about the limitations of online voter registration has been an emerging issue in an otherwise bipartisan success story. It is just one of many examples of how Democrat and progressive groups are willing to sacrifice the integrity of our electoral system because of a perceived yet unrealized negative impact on their core constituencies.