About three dozen Iowans turned out to voice their opposition to the rules Iowa’s Secretary of State has drafted for the removal of non-citizens from the rolls of registered voters.
Iowans suspected of being ineligible to vote would be notified and given 60 days to submit proof they are citizens. Mary Campos of Des Moines teaches classes to people who are applying for American citizenship.
“I think that people who are immigrants and have become citizens, they need not be intimidated because they’ve become citizens,” Campos said after the hearing. “And it takes time for paperwork, so 60 days is not enough period of time to provide any kind of evidence.”
Joe Enriquez Henry — the state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens — said the rules are unnecessary.
“Voting has been going quite well here in Iowa and it’s clear that we don’t want the secretary of state to change the rules here in Iowa on how people vote,” Henry said.
Patrick Douglass of Des Moines was one of several members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement group who testified at today’s public hearing.
“In other states where they’ve done research on the percentage of people who weren’t citizens who were enrolled to vote was like 0.001 or one-one-thousandths of a percent or some ridiculous number like that,” Douglass said after the hearing. “I just don’t think it’s necessary to waste our time and resources.”
This fall, Florida officials announced they discovered 207 non-citizens had registered to vote, out of more than 11.5 million voters, while Colorado identified 141 non-citizens, just 0.004 percent of all registered voters in Colorado.
Shawn Gude of Des Moines, another Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member, accused Iowa’s secretary of state of voter suppression.
“Matt Schultz is a young, ambitious Republican and I think he sees this as politically valuable for his own career and, beyond that, just valuable for Republicans because the people that they’re suppressing are historically Democratic voters,” Gude said after the hearing.
Secretary of State Schultz did not attend today’s public hearing. One person in Spencer who appeared via a video link over the Iowa Communications Network spoke in favor of the effort to remove those suspected of being felons or non-citizens from the voter registration rolls, while two others who testified expressed support for other initiatives that aren’t part of the proposal, like a requirement that voters show a photo I.D. The rest of those who testified spoke against the rules.
A panel of state legislators will review the proposed rules next Wednesday. Secretary of State Schultz has said the rules are needed to protect the integrity of the voting process. His effort to remove suspected non-citizens from Iowa voter registration rolls is being challenged in court.