Voter ID law fails cost/benefit analysis

To the Editor:

Recently the Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate released a proposal for a Voter ID law. A simple cost/benefit analysis suggests this is a big government solution in search of a problem.

First the benefit. On January 6, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported there were 23 people convicted of election misconduct over the last 5 years. From the Secretary of State’s website, between 2012 and 2016 there were 3 general elections and 11 special elections involving state offices (not including county, city or school board elections) where 4,359,308 votes were cast. Therefore the incidence of fraud over that period was .0005 percent. That rate of voter fraud implies there were only 8 fraudulent ballets cast in the recent election (out of 1,581,371 cast). At best, the benefit from the new law in 2016 would have been to have stopped those 8 fraudulent votes (assuming the law was 100 percent effective at stopping those votes).

Now the cost. Pate estimated the law would cost $1 to $2 million to implement. Citing the DOT, he said about 145,600 Iowans would be affected by the ID requirement because they don’t have a driver’s license (according to the DOT they are primarily elderly, minorities, veterans and the disabled). If 1% of them would not vote because of the new law, that would equate to suppressing 1,456 legitimate votes. We would be stopping fraudulent votes at a rate of 182 legitimate votes for 1 fraudulent vote.

The benefit of the law doesn’t justify the expansion of government.

Michael Loebach