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Voter ID bill advances in Iowa

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has introduced a new voter I.D. bill for consideration by the Iowa legislature.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has introduced a new voter I.D. bill for consideration by the Iowa legislature. Should this bill pass the Republican-controlled Iowa House, it will be the second Voter I.D. bill awaiting attention from the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate, but Schultz expects his bill will have a better chance than the one already there.

On January third, the night of this year's Iowa Caucuses, Rachel Maddow spoke with Schultz about his bill and the Republican interest in voter I.D. laws as a solution to a problem that doesn't exist while having a negative impact on the ability of the poor, minorities and the elderly (typically Democratic constituencies) to vote. Find the video above, and the full transcript after the jump.

Rachel Maddow: We're joined by Matt Schultz, Iowa's secretary of state and a declared supporter of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Mr. Secretary of State, thank you very much for being with us.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz: Good evening, thank you.

RM: You and Iowa Republicans in the state legislature have fought hard this year to try to change Iowa law so that people can't vote unless they show documentation they have never had to show before in Iowa.

MS: That's right.

RM: ...And not all Iowans have. Why, when the Republican Party of Iowa had the chance to set its own rules for its own Republican Caucuses tonight, did they not impose that same requirement on their own voters?

MS: That's a good question. As you know, I'm the secretary of state, and this is a caucus, not a primary, so I have no say in this, and neither did the legislature but, you know, if I had it my way, everybody would show an I.D. You have to show an I.D. getting on an airplane, opening a checking account and to buy a beer. So why not when you vote?

RM: Are you concerned by the Constitutional difference between the buying a beer analogy and the voting analogy? I mean voting is our Constitutional right. There's houldn't be, in my view, either prejudicial or bureaucratic barriers to exercising that right and there are thousands of Iowans who would be eligible voters who don't have government-issued I.D. right now. why make it harder for them?

MS: Well, we'll be proposing a bill that I believe will be a model for the country. I created an election advisory board and put five Democratic county auditors and five Republican county auditors, and I said to them, Why don't you like this bill? And we sat down and we tried to hammer out solutions to those problems so that we could have a bill that didn't disenfranchise voters but still allowed for the security by showing an I.D.

RM: Has there ever been a prosecuted case of voter fraud in Iowa that would have been prevented by the voter having to show I.D.?

MS: You know what? We're looking into that right now. We've seen it in other parts of the country, but at this time no, we don't have one. But what we're trying to do is close a loophole. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen and what we want to do is make sure that we have integrity and honesty in our elections. We just don't want it to happen. It's one of those things where just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't and we want to make sure that we have an I.D. bill that makes sure that students and elderly people and who don't have I.D.s will still have an opportunity to vote and still provide that security by helping them get I.D.s and by helping them in those situations in which they can't get one.

RM: Are you concerned at all though about the balance between a theoretical loophole that's never been shown to be an actual problem in Iowa versus the real bureaucratic regulatory barrier that you will put between thousands of Iowans and their right to cast a ballot? I mean, when you think about those things just as -- just as a citizen, how do you justify coming down on the theoretical loophole side of that balance rather than on preventing a real harm to thousands of Iowans, many of them who -- who are elderly and who don't have many options for getting around a bureaucratic hurdle that you're try to put in their way?

MS: I'm not trying to put a hurdle in their way. I'm just trying to make sure that those people who are eligible to vote are voting and only voting once. And that's why I put together this election advisory board. You haven't seen our bill yet. I believe our bill will be a model for the country, to where we can provide security without disenfranchising voters. And I'm looking forward to working with the legislature to passing that kind of legislation. This could be a bipartisan legislation. That's the way I went about it, by putting together this election advisory board and I put county auditors, who are the ones who have the boots on the ground, who count the votes, so to speak. So I'm looking forward to introducing this bill this coming session, and I believe it will be a model for the country and I'd love to talk to you more about it once we get it out there because I think you'll see that we've solved these problems that you're talking about.

RM: Iowa Secretary of State and declared Rick Santorum supporter, Matt Schultz, thank you for being with us and I'll take you up on that offer to keep talking with you abou this. I'd love to keep doing that, sir. Thank you.

MS: Sounds good. Thanks Rachel.