District Court Judge Mary Pat Gunderson issued a temporary injunction, as requested by the ACLU of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa, to halt the Iowa Secretary of State in his implementation of irresponsible and destructive administrative voter suppression rules.
Friday, September 14, 2012
The ruling makes no judgment on the merits of the case, but this move for the time blocks Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s effort to check the citizenship status of more than 3,500 voters.
Assuring the Right of All Citizens to Vote
Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa staff attorney on the case, said "We believe that every qualified, eligible Iowan should be free to exercise their most profound right of citizenship, the right to vote. This decision ensures that those rights will be protected while our case is proceeding, and that no Iowan, regardless of their Latino heritage, regardless of their status as new U.S. citizens, will have to wonder what it will cost them to vote this coming election."
"No one should fear that unsworn, unreliable allegations that they are not qualified to vote will result in the 'investigation and prosecution' contemplated by these irresponsible rules" Bettis added. "Pending the final resolution of this lawsuit, there should be no purge, there should be no consideration of unfounded complaints of fraud, and the Secretary should immediately recall the baseless DCI investigation of thousands of Iowans that is founded solely on outdated, unreliable Department of Transportation data."
Eliminating Fear Among Latino Voters
Joe Enriquez Henry, president of LULAC of Iowa, said "The Latino community is grateful for Judge Gunderson's decision. Her fairness today helps remove the fear that has existed. We are also grateful to the ACLU of Iowa for defending the Constitutional rights of every Iowan citizen to vote. We hope the ruling eliminates any fears Latino Iowa citizens had in exercising their right to vote, and that the Latino community will come out in full force to vote on Election Day."
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.
Glazebook said, "Secretary Schultz attempted to bypass the legislature and the citizens of Iowa by adopting these emergency rules at the 11thhour, attempting to make it harder for qualified Iowans to vote. But our system of government is designed to be more protective of our rights. I am proud that the Court ruled to uphold the rights of all Iowans to vote today."
The First to Sound the Alarm
The ACLU of Iowa was the first to sound the alarm in late July when it found out that Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz had been working in secret and illegally to make these two new administrative rules.
The first rule allows Schultz to use unspecified state and federal lists—which are likely to be outdated or inaccurate—to purge voter registration lists. The other rule allows unreliable allegations that another voter is committing voter fraud—without the person making the allegation first swearing in to its truth, which could result in criminal penalties for false reports. This new rule conflicts with existing Iowa law.