Iowans filled a cramped conference room at the Lucas State Office Building on Monday to offer both praise and criticism of the state’s new voter identification laws as the Secretary of State works to begin implementing the changes. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law in May, enacting a new requirement that every voter present government-issued identification at the polls on Election Day. Monday’s public hearing was intended to give Iowans a chance to discuss the rules governing how the law will be implemented. “The bill is the law now,” said Daniel Zeno with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. “The goal of the rules, we believe, should be to make sure it’s crystal clear so that voter registration organizations, same-day registrants, pre-registered voters all know what the rules are and that we’re protecting the voting rights of all Iowans.” The law, for example, says a voter’s registration will be canceled if that person submits a notice declining to serve on a jury because he or she is not a legal citizen.
The rules currently under consideration implement that law change by requiring the state registrar to review those jury declination forms, compare them against a list of registered voters and send a list of those in violation to the Secretary of State’s office.
Groups like the ACLU of Iowa have filed written complaints, arguing that the rules don’t take into account the possibility that a person’s legal status often is in flux. The rules should explicitly require the Secretary of State to use the most recent data available, they argue.