By Linda Murken, President, LWV of Ames

In a webinar yesterday, Feb. 5, Tim O’Brien, Public Advocacy Voter Protection (PAVP) Project Manager with LWVUS, gave an update on state legislation on voting issues in 2013.  There was actually some good news amidst the bad.

The bad news first  . . .

Eight states passed more voter restrictions in 2013.  North Carolina takes the prize for doing about just everything they could to further restrict voting–require voter photo ID, eliminate same day registration, eliminate pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, reduce the early voting period–while the other states were more moderate, choosing only one or two from the list.

In all, 25 states–including Iowa–introduced bills to adopt voter photo ID.  LWVUS considers Iowa one of the 10 states to watch in 2014 because of this.

Requiring voters to present proof of citizenship at the polls is an emerging issue–seven states introduced bills.

Seven states also introduced bills that would end election-day registration and/or restrict third parties, such as the League, from registering voters.

Eight states introduced bills that would reduce or eliminate early voting.

Now the good news  . . .

Twenty states introduced bills to adopt early voting.

Twenty-two states have or will soon have on-line voter registration and 14 more introduced bills.  (As you know, Iowa is not among them.)

And the US League and several state Leagues continues to actively litigate in states where access to voting has been restricted by law.  (The League was instrumental in the successful fight in Florida against the third-party voter registration law.)

And the most important news!

On January 16  a Voting Rights Act Amendment was introduced in Congress.  It would restore and update pre-clearance requirements to cover jurisdictions with recent patterns of discrimination, increase transparency in election law changes and help prevent discrimination in voting before it occurs.  To send a message in support to Senators Grassley and Harkin, and Representative King, go to National League of Women Voters and click on the VRA picture when it comes up.  If that doesn’t work, click on this link:

Restore the Voting Rights Act

And please talk with your state Senator and Representative about Senate Study Bill 3060*, the voter photo ID bill that was introduced by Secretary of State Schultz.  Even though the bill will probably go nowhere this session, it’s good for Legislators to know that there is resistance to this bill.

Let’s do our part to make 2014 the year when access to voting actually improves in Iowa and across our nation!