Maintaining the integrity of Iowa’s voting process is a responsibility Senate Republicans take seriously. Senate Republicans have made numerous attempts to have this discussion with the majority party in recent years. It is likely we will have floor debate on the voting process in the coming weeks especially since the State Government committee passed Senate File 127 – restoring felon voting rights – on a 9-6 party line vote.
Under Senate File 127, a felon’s voting rights would be restored after they are discharged from a criminal sentence, parole, probation or supervised release. Restitution would be required to be paid, but not before the voting rights are restored. Senate Democrats have said “money” should not be the reason the voting rights are not restored. Senate Republicans take a different view regarding restitution. When a judge orders restitution to be paid to a victim at the conclusion of a criminal case, it is part of the sentence. In that event, restitution is not merely a matter of money; it is just as much of the sentencing process as incarceration. Senate Republicans do not believe that should be taken lightly.
Senate Republicans stand with Governor Branstad in keeping the current system in place. Through this process, felons can petition the Governor to have their citizenship rights restored. Under this system, the Department of Corrections notifies the Secretary of State when the felon is released from the sentence.
When it comes to the voting process, Senate Democrats are focused more on restoring felon voting rights. Republicans favor Voter ID, which is an issue an overwhelming majority of Iowans want to see the Legislature address. Asking those who cast a ballot to show a picture ID ensures Iowans our elections are efficient, effective and free of fraudulent practices. This is the conversation a majority of Iowans want us to debate at the Statehouse. Senate Republicans are eager to discuss Voter ID if voting rights comes to the Senate floor for debate.
With the first funnel date behind us and as the 2014 Legislative session moves forward, Senate Republicans look forward to bringing this conversation to the forefront. A growing number of Iowans and Americans favor a Voter ID process. After all, it has become standard practice to show a picture ID for certain purchases, to fly on an airplane, use a debit or credit card. Shouldn’t such an important right and privilege carry the same responsibility?