Iowa elections official contacting 300k to encourage voter registration

The midterm elections are November 6, 2018.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is sending mail to 300,000 residents across the state who are eligible voters but not yet registered to vote, in coordination with national efforts on National Voter Registration Day Tuesday.

Pate's office is sending postcards to Iowa residences where there are eligible voters who haven't registered in hopes of boosting the state's voter registration rates to 100 percent. Right now, more than 90% of eligible voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state have registered ahead of the November midterms, Pate said.

“The best way to make your voice heard is by registering to vote and participating in elections. I want every eligible Iowan to be a voter,” Secretary Pate said. The effort is a partnership with Electronic Registration Information Center and is funded by a $60,000 grant from Pew Charitable Trusts.

Iowa is one of the top states in the country for voter turnout and participation.

“We want to build on that. We’d like them to be ready to vote in November’s election and future elections.”

Pate claims this is just the latest in a continued effort to register Iowans to vote and familiarize them with changes to Iowa's voting laws since the 2017 Voter ID law rolled out this year. He said he has worked with state civics group, county auditors and college students hosting voter registration drives.

This year marked the "soft roll-out" of Iowa's new law requiring voters show driver’s license, military ID, passport or a state-issued voter I-D card at the polls

Through November's elections, voters can still cast their ballots even if they don't bring an ID by signing an oath swearing their identities. An Associated Press report found at least 1,200 voters during the June 5 primary didn't show IDs and instead signed the affidavits to vote.

Beginning in 2019, there will no longer be that option, which has some critics of the law concerned that voter turn out will diminish.

“Data would suggest that other states that have voter ID laws have seen a decrease in the number of voters," said Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa. "We don’t know what that looks like here in Iowa because the law hasn’t fully gone into effect but anything that would create an obstacle for Iowans to get to the polls is of concern to us.”

Stringer and other leaders at the ACLU of Iowa hope voters won't be discouraged from going to the polls come November because they don't have any ID.

"They shouldn't be afraid to vote," Stringer said.

Pate disputes all claims that the new law will disenfranchise voters.

“I would submit the opposite," Pate said. "We’ve had over 40 special elections, a major primary with Voter ID and we saw a record number of voters voting absentee and one of the highest numbers of Democrats voting in their primary."

To register to vote in Iowa online, click here. To find your polling place, click here.

The midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 6.

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