Judge Halts Parts of IA Voter ID Law

Judge Halts Parts of IA Voter ID Law

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A judge granted a temporary halt on several provisions of Iowa's new voter identification law, a move that could impact its rollout in the November general election.

Polk County Judge Karen Romano's injunction approval, which was filed Tuesday but made public Wednesday, will stop the state from implementing some components of the 2017 law around absentee voting. Other parts of the law remain in effect.

The lawsuit filed in May claims the law violates the state constitution and will make it harder for some people to cast a ballot. The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Taylor Blair, an Iowa State University student, are named as plaintiffs. Priorities USA Foundation, a national organization involved in other voting-related lawsuits, is paying for the litigation.

Priorities USA chairman Guy Cecil applauded the decision in a statement, saying Iowa voters "should not be encumbered by the onerous and discriminatory restrictions" of the law.

Under the injunction, the state will be prohibited from shortening the time to cast absentee ballots from 40 days to 29 days. It will also be barred from requiring that absentee ballots include a voter verification number. Signature-matching requirements for absentee ballots will be on hold.

The judge also ordered Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to not distribute promotional material that specifies voters will be asked to show valid identification at the polls if that same material doesn't include that ID isn't required in 2018 to vote. The ID requirement is not in effect this year, though voters were asked to show some form of it in elections this year as part of a soft roll-out period. They were still allowed to cast a regular ballot without valid ID, an option that will end next year.

Critics of the law claimed some promotional material misled voters about what is needed to a cast a regular ballot this year. Valid identification includes state-issued ID, a passport, military or veteran ID or free non-photo voter card.

Pate, who is named in the suit, says he's "disappointed" in the decision and will appeal it to the Iowa Supreme Court.

"My office has worked diligently with organizations across the state, including the plaintiffs in this case, to inform all Iowans about the provisions of this new law," he added in a statement. "The plaintiffs have not shown a single Iowan has been disenfranchised by this bill."

The secretary of state has been a strong supporter of the voter ID law, which he and other Republicans argued was needed to maintain the integrity of voting in the state. He has repeatedly insisted that no eligible voter will be denied the right to vote, a point that critics have challenged.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Iowa.

The issue is a key topic for Pate's re-election race this year. His opponent, Democrat Deidre DeJear, released a statement Wednesday highlighting her longstanding criticism about the law. She added: "This is a good day for all Iowa voters."

(KA)