A voting rights victory in Iowa

Late Friday, there was another victory in the DNC Voting Rights Institute’s ongoing effort to protect voting rights across the country—this time in Iowa. On Friday afternoon, Judge Mary Pat Gunderson issued a temporary injunction to stay the implementation of Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s controversial new rules governing citizenship checks for voters. Judge Gunderson found that the rules have “created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process,” and “have created fear that new citizens will lose their right to vote and/or be charged with a felony and caused some qualified voters to feel deterred from even registering to vote.”

Secretary Schultz enacted new rules on July 20, 2012 to implement access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE), a database maintained by the federal government. Schultz pushed the rules through as emergency rules, thereby avoiding the usual notice and public comment period. Schultz claimed that he was restricted by the time constraints of the upcoming election.

The ACLU and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa filed suit, claiming that the new rules conflicted with existing state law and would suppress the rights of voters, and Latino voters in particular. A spokesperson for LULAC said on Friday that "Secretary Schultz attempted to bypass the legislature and the citizens of Iowa by adopting these emergency rules at the 11th hour, 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.”

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