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Voter fraud carries harsh

By Staff | Nov 1, 2008

With more interest expressed in this year’s presidential election probably since the Kennedy-Nixon 1960 election, questions and concerns have arisen by both parties regarding possible voter fraud.

While it’s relatively easy to register to vote in Iowa, it can be difficult to prove one’s eligibility to vote – and the penalties are severe.

To register to vote in Iowa, one must be a citizen of the United States, be a resident of Iowa, be at least 17 and a half years old (must be 18 to vote), not have been convicted of a felony unless voting rights have been restored, not currently be judged incompetent to vote by a court and give up the right to vote in another place.

A person can use an Iowa driver’s license and one of the following to prove residence when registering:

n Residential lease

n Property tax statement

n Utility bill

n Bank statement

n Paycheck

n Government check or other government document

If a person does not have a current Iowa driver’s license, he or she can use one of the following:

n Out-of-state driver’s license

n Non-driver identification card

n U.S. passport

n U.S. military ID

n ID card issued by employer

n ID card issued by Iowa high school or college

Falsely attesting or being attested for is registration fraud and is a class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $7,500 and five years in prison. Registration fraud also includes falsely registering to vote, attempting to falsely register to vote and registering to vote in more than one precinct.

Emmet County Auditor Bev Juhl said any poll worker, poll watcher or member of the public can challenge a voter’s qualifications to vote at the polls. The voter who is challenged can still file a provisional ballot and has until 2 p.m. Thursday the week of the election to prove his or her qualifications to vote to the special precinct board. A birth certificate showing a birth place in the United States or naturalization papers are considered proof of citizenship.

An extremely heavy voter turnout is expected Nov. 4. Juhl said as of early Friday the auditor’s office had received 1,082 absentee ballots, already nearly breaking the previous record of approximately 1,100 ballots.