I said it during the secretary of state race, I said it way back when Steve King got the Spanish voter registration forms banned. Democrats talk about helping people vote, Republicans talk about making it harder to vote. Unless it's about taking people's rights away, in which case they say "let the people vote."
The Iowa House gave us hard proof this afternoon, passing a photo ID to vote bill on a straight party line vote: 60 Republicans for, 40 Democrats against. And the Iowa Senate gave us proof this morning, where Democrats stuck together on a procedural motion to protect marriage equality: 26 Democrats for, 24 Republicans against.
Iowa City's own Mary Mascher said it best in the House photo ID debate: "The name of this bill should be changed. It should be called the ‘Voter Suppression Act,’ Voting is a right … it is not a privilege. We should protect that right and make sure that it is equitable for all Iowans.”
The photo ID bill goes next to the Senate where majority leader Mike Gronstal will again need to keep his one seat majority solid to kill the bill.
"I have worked in professional politics for the last 13 years and have not seen one case of voter fraud in the state of Iowa," wrote Iowa Democratic Party executive director Norm Sterzenbach. "This is a costly solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I would rather they spend the money on pre-k, or K-12 education or, I don't know, putting people back to work."
Democrats were also quick to note the cost of solving the nonexistent problem. "Similar legislation has cost other states between five and six million dollars to implement," said state party chair Sue Dvorsky in a release. "At a time when Republicans are making deep cuts to education and other successful programs, spending millions to hamper voting in Iowa shouldn’t be a priority.”
But one angle Iowa Democrats have missed -- until now -- comes from the Texas Senate, which debated the same issue Tuesday night. (Notice how this issue is a top-level priority for every Republican legislature in the country...)
Even if you have the necessary photo I.D., you still might not be accepted to vote. The reason is simple: too many people simply do not look like the photo on their drivers license.If they start weighing us in at polling places, there won't be anyone left to vote.
Senator Zaffirini was the one who brought it up. She shared a photo from a drivers license, and challenged Senators to name the person whose photo it was. None of the Senators had a guess.
She then asked the person whose photo it was to stand up. Her Chief of Staff, Ray Martinez, stood up. At the time, Ray had been sitting next to Zaffirini, in plain sight of all the Senators who couldn't guess that it was his photo.
I shouldn't laugh, but it beats crying. Between the marriage vote, the photo ID vote, and Terry Branstad's drown government in a bathtub budget, what I called "silly season" yesterday is rapidly turning mean. The first League of Women Voter's legislative forum this weekend (Saturday, 9:30 - 11:30, Iowa City hall) should be epic, as Johnson County's mostly Dem delegation shares tales from the front.