Voting Problems, Fraud, Scandals Plague Polling Places Across America: Iowa
IOWA – November 20, 2018
In Iowa, Election Day was much calmer, although the new rule for voter identification, which is unusual for everyone, has stumped many. State law recently required voters to show a valid ID, but many voters said they didn’t know about it or didn’t understand.
Many voters stood in long lines, which has become the norm in many states, not knowing that they now needed identification to vote—a driver's license, military ID, a U.S. passport, or a veteran’s ID.
Voters were asked to provide their name or address. "Then we are going to ask you sign the oath or show an ID. We think a lot of people will just show their driver's licenses," said Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald.
If you don't want to show an ID, or don't have one but are registered to vote, you can just sign an oath, he added.
As it turned out later, not all polling stations took care to inform voters about the new law, although it was initially stated that poll workers would place posters specifically to inform about the law.
The decision to change voter ID laws was made after 2016, when Iowa was one of the 21 states subjected to Russian hackers according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Republican Paul Pate, who undoubtedly won the third term as the top official candidate in the elections in Iowa, again supported the idea of voters' identification in the elections and added that next year the system can be simplified, but no one will cancel it.
In particular, it was said that people who don't have identification now will be able to pass a preliminary ballot, but after that and before the official vote is counted, it will be necessary to show any document.
Such a balanced decision, according to Pate, will simplify the situation and allow people not to create confusion during the elections.
Also in 2017, Pate's decision adopted other innovations, namely the fact that the law reduced the period of early voting in the state, eliminated straight-ticket voting and will require Iowans to present an ID issued by the state in the elections, starting next year.
Pate, 60, of Cedar Rapids, defeated Democrat Deidre DeJear, 32, in the Secretary of State race with 53% of the vote to DeJear’s 45%, with all 99 counties reporting.
Two other residents — one in Polk and one in Dallas County — were even less fortunate. The identity recognition system mistakenly identified them as convicts. They spent more than two hours proving that it was a mistake.
Among other problems was the lack of parapets and access for persons with disabilities, including an unnecessary sidewalk lip at Calvary Chapel in Des Moines that made the site inaccessible for one voter in a wheelchair.
Des Moines resident Emmanuel Smith, an employee of the advocacy group Disability Rights Iowa, reported that a half-step into a precinct at Calvary Chapel on Des Moines’ east side prevented him from accessing the site. Smith, who uses a wheelchair, was able to vote outside with the help of poll workers. Federal law requires polling sites to be handicapped-accessible. Smith said he was left outside in the cold waiting for a bus for nearly 40 minutes as a result of the step.
Further, the question of identification stirred racial tensions, as several people noted that poll workers asked for ID from people of Asian or Latin American appearance, while white people went through without a wait. This is not only a gross violation of voting laws, but also of the Federal law on racial harassment.
In particular, voter Christopher Civitate of Des Moines noticed that poll workers at Wesley United Methodist Church on the city’s east side were asking Asian and Hispanic people to show identification but did not ask the same of him or some other white people who were in line to vote.
Two Guthrie County precincts, Panora and Menlo, ran out of ballots, and then people had to wait almost an hour for workers to find or print new ones, voters reported.
There was also the problem of broken voting machines. Des Moines resident Mary Lawyer posted her concerns on Facebook about a broken ballot machine at the Burns Methodist Church downtown that she said forced her to leave her ballot in a pile with a promise from precinct workers that they would feed it through the machine when it resumed functioning, noting "it didn’t feel quite right."
In several districts, the elections lasted longer than expected due to long lines. A site at Iowa State University, for example, didn’t close until 11 p.m. — two hours after polls were scheduled to shut down — because of long lines, the Ames Tribune reported.