After Voter ID Law, Iowa State University Students Win Effort on Student ID Cards

Iowa Starting Line,  August 28, 2019

"Starting in Fall 2020, students will be able to use their student IDs to prove their identity at the polls. That’s because the university will now print an expiration date on student IDs, which puts them into compliance with part of Iowa’s new election laws. Students will still need to prove their residency, but an ISU online portal will help fill that part of the requirement.

Iowa passed a law in 2017 establishing an ID requirement and listed the acceptable forms of primary ID. Those are: an Iowa Voter Identification Card, Iowa driver’s license, Iowa non-operator ID, a military or veteran ID, a U.S. passport or a tribal ID card or document.


According to Taylor Blair, president of the ISU College Democrats, student IDs are a secondary form of ID, so if students want to use them, they also have to provide proof of residency.

The IDs already have students’ photos on them, and Blair said the university has an online portal that displays a student’s address, which has been approved by the county auditor, but the expiration date is the final piece of the puzzle.

“For every eligible Iowa State student, we have a route to have residency proven and ID and that’s really important,” he said.

Iowa does allow people without one of the eligible forms of ID to either fill out a provisional ballot on election day or to apply for a voter ID card in advance.


Neither of those options are good solutions to allowing students to vote, Blair said.

“The issue is that if you’re from out of state, the process is already pretty complex and pretty opaque for a lot of students,” he said. “They don’t really understand exactly what they have to do, what they have to bring, and so if you get a postcard in the mail that says you’re registered and then you get another postcard in the mail a couple days later, it’s hard to know which one of those is the voter ID card.”

The voter ID cards are white card stock, not plastic, and Blair said they’re easy to lose or forget about. He did last year.


If a voter doesn’t have the right ID on election day, the next option is to fill out a provisional ballot, which allows a citizen to cast a vote, but it isn’t counted until they’ve proven they’re eligible voters.


Blair said that’s potentially a problem because students may have to travel without access to a car, get to the office during business hours and know where to go in the first place." 


When the change takes place in 2020, it will only apply to IDs for the incoming class. Blair said he and his group are trying to convince the administration to develop a way for current students to update their IDs with expiration dates." 



By Nikoel Hytrek

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Hannah Piercey