The ACLU of Iowa and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa today (August 8) filed a request for an injunction to halt the improper implementation of two voter suppression rules by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

August 8, 2012

The first voter suppression rule allows Schultz to purge Iowa’s voter registration list by comparing with it unspecified federal and state agency lists. Schultz has not specified which lists he is using. “The public has no way to be sure he’s using accurate, up-to-date information to remove voters from Iowa’s voter lists,” said ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Ben Stone. “The potential for erroneous information is huge.”

"Iowa's Secretary of State has taken it upon himself to conduct a witch hunt upon the minority community in Iowa, specifically targeting the 152,000 Latinos who live here."

The second voter suppression rule would create a new, unreliable way for people to make voter fraud complaints to the Secretary of State's office. The new method would skirt Iowa law by removing a requirement that the person swear to the truth of their allegation, with criminal penalties for false reports.

The ACLU and LULAC also assert that under Iowa law, Schultz doesn’t have the legal authority to implement these rules and by doing so, is in violation of the law.

"This illegal effort by the Secretary of State to purge Iowa's voter list threatens to deprive eligible registered Iowa voters of their constitutionally protected right to vote,” said Stone. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Also, the ACLU and LULAC are concerned about Schultz’s timing and procedure. Schultz provided no public notice about implementation of these voter suppression rules. And he is doing so right before the general election in November. “Schultz implemented these rules unilaterally on July 20 without proper authority to do so and without giving any notice to the public.”

Iowa LULAC State Director Joseph Enriquez Henry said, “To begin a purge of registered voters so close to the fall elections is unconscionable. We urge Mr. Schultz to cease his political activity and to keep politics out of the elected office that he holds."

Stone concurs: “We demand that the Secretary of State immediately rescind these rules and stop playing political games with the voting rights of eligible voters in Iowa.”

Henry said he is concerned that the purge is most likely to erroneously identify Latinos in Iowa, especially new citizens or citizens with last names similar to registered non-citizens, who are not eligible to vote.

"Iowa's Secretary of State has taken it upon himself to conduct a witch hunt upon the minority community in Iowa, specifically targeting the 152,000 Latinos who live here,” said Henry. “This summer we expect to identify and register 40,000 Latinos who are Iowa citizens. We are very worried that they will be wrongfully and erroneously purged.”

Legal counsel for the case is Des Moines attorneys Dan Johnston and Joseph Glazebrook of Glazebrook and Moe, LLP,  as well as Nancy Abudu and Laughlin McDonald of the national ACLU Voting Rights Project.

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