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Iowa Secretary of State seeks to make emergency voter rules permanent

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September 12, 2012

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz

By Greg Janetka

DES MOINES, Iowa: Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) defended his new voter rules before the Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee yesterday, saying they are necessary to ensure noncitizens don't vote in the November elections. Opponents, meanwhile, are concerned that the new rules will intimidate certain groups of voters, including Hispanics, and keep them from registering to vote.[1]

Schultz passed the new rules in July on an emergency basis without any public input, saying it was necessary in order to implement them prior to this year's general election. The review committee, which is composed of five Democrats and five Republicans, does not have any authority to change the rules, only to implement a formal process that would allow for public comment and hearings before the rules become permanent.[2]

Under the new rules, Schultz would be able to remove voters from the state's registration database by comparing it with a state Department of Transportation list and a federal immigration list. Any voters found to be listed as noncitizens would be notified of their pending removal and given a chance to prove their citizenship. Additionally, the rules would allow allegations of voter fraud to be reported anonymously. Currently such reports require a sworn statement, with prosecution possible if fraud is falsely alleged.[2]

Ultimately, the fate of the rules are in the hands of Polk County Judge Mary Pat Gunderson, who is currently considering the legal arguments. A lawsuit, which seeks to block Schultz from enacting the rules, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens in August. A decision is expected soon.[2]

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