Iowa secretary of state’s voter rules struck down

2012-09-15T03:30:00Z Iowa secretary of state’s voter rules struck downThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 15, 2012 3:30 am  • 

DES MOINES — A district court judge on Friday halted Iowa’s Republican secretary of state from implementing voting rules he established without public input.

Polk County District Court Judge Mary Pat Gunderson said in her ruling that Secretary of State Matt Schultz could have followed normal rule-making procedures and that emergency rules were unnecessary before the November election.

Schultz created two rules in July without a public hearing, using an emergency administrative process. One would have challenged votes of individuals who appear on state and federal databases as noncitizens. A second rule would have made it easier to report alleged voter fraud.

He said he feared noncitizens would try to vote in November.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa filed a lawsuit to stop the rules. They claimed Schultz exceeded his rulemaking powers and that the rules were vague and could mistakenly deprive qualified voters of their right to vote.

While Gunderson said she was not issuing a ruling on those arguments and would consider them at a trial later, she stayed the rules and issued a temporary injunction, which prevents Schultz from enacting them until the court can hear the full arguments.

She did not agree with the argument Schultz made that he needed to pass the rules quickly because he had too little time before the November election to go through the normal process of hearings and public input.

Schultz has claimed he compared voter registration records with an Iowa Department of Transportation database and found more than 3,000 people registered to vote who were not citizens. He has been negotiating with the federal government to make another comparison to an immigration database purported to be more accurate.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz has been critical of Schultz’s investigation and the timeframe involved. She asked Schultz’s office for the names of Scott County voters among the 3,000 to do her own investigation and hasn’t received them.

“This still means he can move forward with his criminal investigation, but I hope he doesn’t do anything until after the election,” Moritz said Friday. “This shows he should have come forward to the county auditors to do their own investigations.

“We want to get people to the polls, not exclude people from the polls, and we want to run elections with integrity. He’s had plenty of time to incorporate what he wanted to do in an expeditious manner and now we are less than 60 days from an election.”

Gunderson said Schultz could have started the process of making the rules earlier and that the time restraints he was under were self-imposed.

She added that the civil rights groups have shown that they and the voters they represent will suffer irreparable harm if the rules weren’t halted. She concluded the rules created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. MRM
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    MRM - September 17, 2012 7:04 am
    Total freedom, you are right on. There was plenty of time to investigate but he wanted to make a end run around the 24th amendment. Makes me wonder if this is the only way they think they can win the election. Looks like he was trying to move everything back to how it was 60 years ago. Just because you don't like a law doesn't mean you don't have to obey that law in this case the 24th Amendment..
  2. Report Abuse
    - September 15, 2012 8:55 am
    The part that says you can't do it weeks before an election, for one. The second, is when you introduce rules that violate other laws under the constitution at the state or federal level.

    Next, Schultz tried to strike down a law on the Iowa books that says you, as the person reporting the allegations, must swear to the facts and face prosecution for making false allegations. You cannot strike that with an emergency rule.

    Schultz has 6 months to enact this after he was made aware, and he failed to follow protocol. If he was telling the truth (since he's told 2 different stories), and was aware of it 18 months ago (which is it, 6 months ago or 18 months ago), he again had more than enoug time to run it through the channels.

    You can't just arbitrarily trample the 24th amendment. Perhaps you should read it, and you wouldn't have to ask such a ridiculous question.

    Scott County Auditor asked for the names of the Scott county voters in July. It's the middle of September, and he hasn't delivered on them. This is Schultz's job to do. Mailing a list that has a whole 3000 names on it, of which Scott county has only a few names (less than a hundred, I believe), and Moritz could have searched EVERY name on the list by this time against the scott county rolls.

    If you are going to accuse someone of this criminal act, you better be willing to sign your name and be prosecuted, if you are accusing people to be malicious or "stuff the ballot boxes". You should do time, and pay the fines.
  3. total freedom
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    total freedom - September 15, 2012 8:33 am
    the states that are trying to change the rules on voters going to the polls are run by Republicans. does this not seem odd and why all of sudden for this election. it is just plain vote suppression and is not what this country is about.
  4. Dickknuth
    Report Abuse
    Dickknuth - September 15, 2012 6:50 am
    There is a Federal Law prohibiting non US citizens from voting in US elections. What part of that requires public input???
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