Michael Gronstal

(Council Bluffs) -- The Democratic leader in the Iowa Senate plans to push for on-line voter registration in Iowa. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says young people, in particular, expect to be able to conduct most of their personal business on-line and legislators should take steps to allow eligible Iowans to register to vote online.

“Twenty states have on-line registration and have no problems with that, so that’s one of the things I’d like to see,” Gronstal says.

Earlier this month Gronstal attended a national voting rights conference. He’s not anticipating the Republican-led Iowa House and Democratically led Iowa Senate will be able to agree to adopt many of the proposals discussed at the conference, but he may also try to change Iowa’s absentee balloting process. Under the current system voters must fill out an absentee ballot request form for each election.

“I’d love to be able to have my absentee ballots come for every election to my home because I always have to think in advance and plan for that and it’s not always predictable,” Gronstal says, “so that’s something I’d like to look at as well.”

Gronstal supports what’s called permanent absentee voting, letting voters sign up once to get a ballot sent to their home for every election. He says it would boost voter participation in low turn-out elections, like municipal and school board elections, as Iowans would be prompted to vote when a ballot is delivered to their home.

Republicans, meanwhile, have made requiring a photo ID for in-person voting in Iowa their top priority — a proposal that Gronstal has tabled when it has reached the Democratically led senate in past years.

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