Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Wednesday he expects to move forward in March with new rules intended to protect voting rights and prevent unauthorized people from casting election ballots. “I feel pretty confident where we stand. We really have been very measured in the way we’ve approached this issue,” said Schultz, who noted that rule changes he has proposed to take effect as early as March 13 have the backing of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
Schultz’s comments came on a day when critics panned his rule modifications that would set up a process for county and state election officials to verify the status of registered voters suspected of being non-U.S. citizens or ineligible convicted felons using a federal Homeland Security database. Those whose citizenship or legal voting status came under challenge would be notified and have at least four months to provide proper documentation proving their right to vote.
During the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee discussion of Schultz’s proposed changes Wednesday, critics said the rules are an attempt to “purge,” suppress, persecute, disenfranchise and intimidate mainly Latino voters, immigrants and new citizens.
“Voter fraud is a nonexistent problem,” said Ana Belen Mancebo, 21, of Des Moines, a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “We should expand voter rights, not suppress them. Stop attacking immigrants, stop wasting taxpayer money, do the right thing and throw out this rule.”