New AccessPlus feature could help students vote

Students can now use their smartphones to prove where they live, which in some cases might be required to vote in upcoming elections.

The Iowa Election Integrity Law passed in the 2017 legislative session will be in effect, albeit incrementally, at the midterm election Nov. 6. As they have for all elections this year, voters will be asked to prove who they are. In 2018, voters who don't supply identification still will be allowed to sign an oath and cast a regular ballot. Starting next year, voters without ID can cast only a provisional ballot, which requires them to follow up with proof of their identity.

Voters who are preregistered at their current address need to show an Iowa driver's license or non-operator's ID, a U.S. military or veteran's ID, a U.S. passport or a tribal ID. Registrants without any of those forms of identification automatically receive a free state-issued voter ID card in the mail.

The law requires voters registering the day of the election or who are registered at a previous address to prove their identity and their residency, a situation bound to apply to many students. In addition to many being new voters, some students might remain registered in their hometown -- which is fine, if they'd rather vote as a resident from there.

To prove their identities, voters changing their registration or newly registering on Election Day must show a non-expired ID with both a photo and an expiration date. Accepted forms of ID include a driver's license or non-operator's ID from any state, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military or veterans card, an employer-issued ID or a student ID. ISUCards won't work as an ID at the polls because they don't have an expiration date.

If their ID doesn't show their current address, voters can prove where they live by showing a lease, paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or government document. Or, in the case of an Iowa State student, they can pull up AccessPlus on their phone. A feature added this summer placed a link on the left-hand side of the student section of AccessPlus called Voter Reg Address. Clicking on it pulls up an address verification that will be accepted at polling precincts as proof of residency.

Jennifer Suchan, senior associate registrar, said it was important to provide the convenience of verifying an address digitally. "It's meeting students where they are," she said. 

Though the address verification feature isn't available for ISU employees, faculty and staff can help students make sure their address is correct. Under the Faculty/Adviser tab in AccessPlus, Voter Reg Address is in the Dept Advising Srvs section.

The registrar's office worked with the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics to ensure the address verification is valid. The Catt Center plans to get the word out about voter ID requirements this fall and step up voter registration efforts, including offering registration during Destination Iowa State for the first time, said director Dianne Bystrom.