The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting the decision by Matt Schultz, Iowa secretary of state, to make two new administrative rules that would challenge voter eligibility. The first rule set forth by Schultz would make it easier to file a voter fraud complaint in Iowa. As the law stands now, there is a lengthy process to make the complaint. According Schultz’s new administrative rule, a person only needs to submit a form online, which according to the union, requires no accountability for truth and implies nothing about a consequence for intentionally filing a false claim. The second rule added grants the secretary of state, whomever it happens to be, power to review registered voters in Iowa. The secretary would take a list of people with noncitizen licenses from the Department of Transportation and compare it to a list of registered voters from the federal government. The point of this process, said Chad Olson, Schultz’s chief of staff, would be to find people who registered to vote with their noncitizen license, to try and weed out voter fraud through removing those noncitizen voters.
Schultz avoided the usual waiting period in which the public is informed of rules being changed by categorizing them as both regular and emergency rules, allowing them to be put into immediate effect. The American Civil Liberties Union blew the whistle on the rules, and the process in which Schultz enacted them, in late July. Rita Bettis, legislative director and staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that under these rules, immigrants and new citizens would have an inadequate opportunity to prove their citizenship. Bettis said the 14 days granted in the letters sent to those believed to be noncitizens voting were not enough time to prove citizenship and vote.
Olson explained the reason behind the quick decision was to gain access to the federal government’s Systematic Alien Verification Entitlements database, which is used by the government to identify immigrants’ legal statuses. They were working to clear the election rules in time for their use in the upcoming election, which would not have been possible without quick access to the database.