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Iowa fought off voter ID for everyone (and the good judge blocked the voter purges) but I had seen vague references that "some" first time voters "might" need ID. Nothing on the web clarified that yay or nay, so I went to the hourse's mouth today, the county auditor. The punch line: yes, some first time voters will need ID. Join me below the fleur de Kos for the full scoop.

At the top of the Iowa registration form (available online here) are spaces for either your Iowa driver's license or non-driver ID OR the last four digits of your social security number. These were added under HAVA (the Help America Vote Act) and simply serve as a way to verify that yes, a person with that first and last name exists. (there is a small check box if you have neither, but the clerk said the only person he'd seen in years without a social security number was an eighty-five year old nun.)

What if you forget to fill that in, or you have bad handwriting, or the clerk misreads it? Well, then they send you a note in the mail. If you get that note, read it and act on it, no problem. But what happens if you don't get this sorted before election day?

Well, then, on election day it's as if you weren't registered at all and the Election Day Registration rules kick in. I'm not going to risk a mistake by paraphrasing so they listed below as the Secretary of State gives them online, with some bolding and comments added by me. These are also of course the requirements if you didn't attempt to register.

Election Day Registration
You may register and vote on election day. To do so, you first must go to the correct polling place for your current address on election day.
If you are unsure of your polling place, Find Your Precinct/Polling Place.
At the polling place, you must prove both who you are and where you live. The best way to do this is with your valid Iowa driver’s license with your current address printed on it.

Proof of ID

If you do not have an Iowa driver’s license, you may use a photo ID that is current, valid, and contain an expiration date. The following are acceptable IDs:

Iowa non-driver ID card
Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver ID card
U.S. passport
U.S. military ID
ID card issued by employer
Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college [NB: many of these lack the needed expiration date!]

Proof of Residence

If your photo ID does not contain your current address, you may use another document to prove where you live if it contains your name and current address. The following are acceptable proofs of residence:

Residential lease
Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)[important because roommates may pay the utilities, but not so helpful for people who pay online]
Bank statement
Paycheck
Government check or other government document

Attester

If you cannot prove who you are and where you live with the documents listed above, a registered voter from your precinct may attest for you. Both you and the attester will be required to sign an oath swearing the statements being made are true.
Falsely attesting or being attested for is registration fraud. It is a class “D” felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $7,500 and up to 5 years in prison.

My take home from this is that people can register early without burdensome documents, just a SS number at the minimum. Proof of residence is taken care of because they mail your voter card to you.  Registering on election day is somewhat more complex, but there is the back door of a registered voter attesting for you - I don't know how common that is.

It is still the case that the poor and students will find it harder to do same day registration so encourage everyone to register now!

My advice: register now if you haven't already. Vote early and cherish the privilege!

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