DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - There could be changes to a voter identification bill being proposed by Iowa’s top election official, said two key Republican lawmakers overseeing part of the legislation’s movement in the GOP-controlled Iowa Legislature.
Rep. Ken Rizer of Marion and Sen. Roby Smith of Davenport said Wednesday they’re working together on possible changes to Secretary of State Paul Pate’s voter ID bill, which was announced on Jan. 5. The lawmakers oversee the state government committees in the House and Senate that would review the bill. They declined to reveal details.
Rizer, in an interview with The Associated Press, said he expected to work off Pate’s bill. A draft of that measure has not been made public yet.
“What we’re looking to do is take what Secretary Pate has recommended and use that as a starting point for an election reform bill,” he said.
Pate is seeking $1 million for his effort, which would pay for new state-issued voter IDs and upgrades to the technology used to conduct the state’s elections. He has said he could work with a smaller appropriation if not all the money is immediately available.
It is normal for committees to change proposed legislation. But revisions to the voter ID proposal could undermine efforts by Pate to promote what he says will be in the bill. He’s released information sheets about his plan and he’s met with various groups to point out what he says will be in the measure.
Kevin Hall, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said in an email that Pate hopes lawmakers will leave the bill in its current form.
“Secretary Pate wants a clean bill, as he proposed,” Hall said. “He is asking the Legislature to pass it without changes.”
Smith agreed with Rizer’s assessment in a later interview that included both men. Smith noted that neither of them had seen a draft of Pate’s bill and everything was preliminary. The lawmakers said they’re communicating with their caucuses to go over ideas.
Pate discussed details of the bill to lawmakers at a state government committee meeting led by Rizer on Jan. 19. Democrats at the meeting asked for a draft of the bill, which would require voters to show identification at election polls. Pate has emphasized the goal of the bill is to maintain voter integrity in Iowa’s election system, though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.
Pate’s office has said the bill is going through the normal process of being drafted through the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
Several county auditors who oversee elections in Iowa are expected to visit the Capitol on Thursday to answer questions from Rizer’s state government committee.
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