Two civil rights groups have sued Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to halt a new state rule allowing people to be removed from voter registration lists if their citizenship is questioned. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens filed the lawsuit Friday in Polk County District Court. The document asks a judge to find the rule, which took effect Wednesday, illegal and issue a court order that prevents its implementation. Schultz, a Republican, has said the change is needed to reduce voter fraud, an issue he’s championed since taking office in 2011. Critics have called the rule a witch hunt, voter suppression and “a solution in search of a problem.”
“Voting is an area where we are all equal,” ACLU Executive Director Ben Stone said in a written statement. “Politicians shouldn’t make it harder for qualified voters in Iowa to do their duty as citizens to vote. We will always zealously fight for the voting rights of Iowans. And we’ll work to keep government bureaucracies from overstepping the bounds of their authority in a way that compromises citizens’ rights.”
Schultz was not immediately available for comment Saturday. The groups stopped enactment of a similar emergency rule just before the November general election, but Schultz pursued a permanent rule.