Judge strikes down part of 2017 Iowa voter-ID law

Judge Karen Romano of Iowa Judicial District 5C struck down a part of the 2017 voter-ID law, a rule regarding processing of absentee ballots.


Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

A District 5C Court judge struck down a part of the 2017 voter-ID law that prevented Iowa county auditors from using an existing voter database to verify voters’ identity.

The bill, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Terry Branstad, instructed elections commissioners to contact an absentee voter by phone, email, mail, or in person if not enough information was provided on their absentee ballot.

Previously, elections commissioners had to verify a voters’ identity through “the best means possible.” The 2017 bill interpreted that language to mean contacting the voter directly, and prohibited auditors from using the state’s voter-registration system.

In her ruling, District 5C Judge Karen Romano called the part of the 2017 law that prohibited elections commissioners from using the voter registration database “irrational, illogical and wholly unjustifiable.”

RELATED: Some County Auditors in Iowa see voter-ID law as unnecessary

The League of United Latin American Citizens filed the petition in May 2018 in opposition to the bill against the Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

Katie Goodale
Secretary of State Paul Pate addresses members of the media at the Kim Reynolds watch party at the Hilton in Des Moines on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018.

Lawyers for the secretary of state argued in court that contacting the voter instead of using the database allowed elections commissioners to retrieve information directly from the source.

RELATED: Iowans back voter ID

The suit is one of two against the 2017 voter-ID law.  The second is still pending, and aims to turn over the entire law on the grounds that the law violates the right to vote in the state constitution.

The second suit, filed by LULAC and an Iowa State University student, will be decided at a later time.