EXCLUSIVE: Romney Campaign Incorrectly Trains Iowa Poll Watchers To Check For Photo ID

Earlier this week, ThinkProgress released internal documents from the Romney campaign detailing how it is training poll watchers to mislead voters in Wisconsin. Now, according to new documents, Wisconsin may not be the only state where Romney’s campaign is equipping volunteers with deceptive information.

A new ThinkProgress investigation has found that in Iowa, Romney poll watchers are being trained to watch for voters who show up without a photo ID, even though no voter ID law exists in the state.

In a training video for Romney poll watchers in Iowa, the narrator tells volunteers to be on the lookout for anytime “a voter fails to show a voter ID and they are still permitted to vote.” If that happens, he says, “alert the legal team so they can handle the problem.” The text of the campaign’s slide, however, says something contradictory, instructing volunteers when poll workers should check the voter’s ID. Despite the mixed messages, the slide ends with: “If an election worker is not checking photo ID, please call the legal hotline immediately.”

NARRATOR: Naturally, you’re probably wondering what irregularities may come up throughout the day. We’ll walk you through some quick examples. First, there may be an instance where a voter fails to show a voter ID and they are still permitted to vote. If you notice this, use the legal help button to alert the legal team so they can handle the problem and you can get back to checking voters.

Watch it:

The text on the video notes that utility bills and other government documents are acceptable forms of ID, but that section is contradicted by the narrator’s decree to be on the lookout for anyone who tries to vote without a photo ID and text at the bottom warning poll watchers to be on the lookout for voters who lack photo ID. In sum, the training material is, at best, highly misleading.


Iowa in not a voter ID state. ThinkProgress asked a representative at the Iowa Secretary of State’s office whether it would be incorrect to say that voter ID is required in Iowa. “That’s right,” she confirmed. Voters do not need ID on Election Day; they can show a current utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, paycheck, or other government document, but are not required to do so.

This video is part of Romney’s massive nationwide poll-watcher effort on Election Day. The campaign is training 34,000 volunteers to fan out in swing states across the country and monitor for voter fraud. Romney personally touted Project ORCA in a video released Wednesday evening, telling poll watchers that they’ll “be the key link in providing critical, real-time information to me.” Because of the program, Romney said, “our campaign will have an unprecedented advantage on Election Day.”


After ThinkProgress published this story, the Romney campaign scrubbed the original training video from the web. It has since been replaced with an alternate video that does not mention photo ID. We captured the original video, which you can see below:


A number of readers have noted that, in fact, most Iowans aren’t required to show any identification at all, including non-photo forms like a utility bill or pay stub, though it’s still helpful to bring if you have it readily available.


According to Reuters, the office of Iowa’s Secretary of State, Matt Schultz (R), “contacted the state director of the Romney campaign” to make clear that the state did not require photo ID to vote.