On Friday, February 11, 2011 the Iowa State Association of County Auditors (ISACA) voted to oppose House File 95, the Voter Photo ID bill.  The vote came on a motion for ISACA to take a lobbying position on the House passed measure.  No county supported the current version of the bill, 44 counties opposed the bill and 16 counties voted to remain neutral.  This recommendation went to the ISACA executive committee which decided unanimously to register as opposed to the bill.

An earlier straw poll showed all county auditors opposed to the bill.  The difference within the membership focused on whether taking a formal position in opposition was the proper strategy, or if a less formal opposition be more strategic.

Opposition to the bill came from both Democratic and Republican auditors.  Auditors were concerned that the photo ID requirement would drive up the cost of elections, increase provisional voting and prove to be a significant disincentive for voters.  Some auditors saw an increased burden on already overworked precinct election officials, and that many would quit due to these officials bearing the brunt of voter backlash to the requirement.  They also saw significant problems for some voters, such as college students, in obtaining required state issued photo IDs.  

Much of the discussion focused on the experience with photo IDs in the state of Indiana.  An average precinct in Indiana will have six poll workers to make the photo ID requirement work.  However, the average Indiana precinct will have two-thirds the number of voters of an Iowa precinct.  A typical Iowa precinct will have five workers.  To meet the staffing level of an Indiana precinct, an Iowa precinct would need nine poll workers, or an 80 percent increase.  Auditors were incredulous they could meet that staffing level given the difficulty in recruiting workers under the current system.

An ISACA exploratory committee which met with election officials from Indiana estimated that the annual cost of free photo IDs could reach as high as $1,682,000 for state and local government in Iowa based on the Indiana experience.  The committee also found that since 2005 Indiana spent $2.2 million for voter education on the ID requirement, including $600,000 for the 2010 general election.  A similar appropriation would be needed for outreach to Iowa voters.  A final unmeasured expense for Indiana is the cost of annual litigation to defend the state and some counties from claims the photo ID requirement present an undue burden on voting.  So far litigants have not been able to produce an individual instance where the photo ID requirement prevented someone from casting a valid ballot.  Indiana election officials were concerned what the courts would decide if such harm could be proved.

Most auditors believed that the current Iowa safeguards against voter fraud at the polls are sufficient to insure the security of Iowa elections.  If there is a weakness in the system it lies in absentee voting.  Other states which have enacted photo ID requirements have experienced significant voter fraud.  For example the 1997 mayors’ election in Miami, Florida found massive absentee voter fraud committed by the supporters of one of the candidates. The fraud was so extensive that all absentee ballots were thrown out by the judge in the resulting election contest.  Significantly, photo ID requirements could have the effect of driving up absentee voting by voters who do not have photo IDs.  One estimate shows that 11 percent of othewise eligible Iowa voters do not have a government issued photo ID.