Helping end felony disenfranchisement

Along with partner organizations, we have fought for years—through legal and policy advocacy and by bringing lawsuits and filing amicus briefs—to reform and end Iowa’s destructive and draconian disenfranchisement policies.

Before Gov. Reynolds signed an executive order restoring voting eligibility to Iowans with felony convictions in their background in 2020, nearly one in 10 Black Iowans were barred from the ballot box. Since the executive order was signed, we’ve also worked to help educate Iowans with convictions that they can vote.

Protecting the right of Iowans to vote during COVID-19

Along with the League of Women Voters, we filed a brief with the Iowa Supreme Court asking to protect the ability of Iowans to participate in the 2020 General Election by voting absentee. The state had asked the Court not to treat absentee voting as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, and our brief was important to the Court’s decision to apply constitutional protections to absentee voting--in the pandemic and moving forward. Absentee voting is very important for everyone to be able to participate in our democracy.

Conducting public education on voting rights

We provide nonpartisan elections materials to better educate Iowans on their voting rights.

Fighting for transgender and gender non-conforming voters

With One Iowa and the League of Women Voters of Iowa, we promote educational information for election workers, detailing best practices for interacting with transgender and gender non-conforming voters.

Advocated against Iowa’s voter ID law

We continue to advocate to reform Iowa’s onerous voter ID law, including lobbying that blocked voter ID from passing into law prior to 2017, speaking out against Iowa’s voter ID law in 2017, and public education to help voters navigate the new rules. Voter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and stand in direct opposition to our country’s trend of including more Americans in the democratic process.

Spoke up against restrictive voting rules

Eight nonprofit groups, including the ACLU of Iowa, filed comments in response to newly proposed administrative rules that would implement changes in the way Iowans vote in 2017. The proposed rules would have made it more difficult and complicated for Iowans to cast their ballots.

Supported a constitutional amendment to end felony disenfranchisement

We helped lead the effort to amend the Iowa Constitution to allow automatic restoration of voting rights for more than 60,000 Iowans with felony convictions in their backgrounds in 2019. A constitutional amendment is the only way to permanently end Iowa’s bad felony disenfranchisement policies.

However, it’s important that the amendment not end up taking away voting rights from people who are benefiting from our current executive order. Any constitutional amendment will be in place for a long time—possibly generations. So it must protect the voting rights of everyone, and should not condition voting rights on the payment of legal financial obligations.

Stopped discriminatory voter purges

On behalf of our client, the League of United Latin American Citizens, we sued the state, and won a voting rights case against the former Secretary of State's office.

The Secretary of State had sought to identify, challenge, and remove suspected non-citizens from Iowa’s registered voter rolls, which ended up violating the voting rights of naturalized U.S. Citizen voters who were disproportionately Latino. The district court decided that the actions of the former Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, were unlawful, and blocked the purge.