After months of negotiations and paperwork, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Wednesday his office will gain access to a federal immigration database it can use to investigate potential voter fraud. Schultz, a Republican, released a signed memorandum of understanding between his office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that will allow him to tap the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE, Program, which tracks the legal status of immigrants. “While there are still many logistics to work out in this process that may take some time, I want to thank the Federal government for finally granting my office access to the federal SAVE program,” Schultz said in a statement. “Ensuring election integrity without voter suppression has been our goal throughout this process. This is a step in the right direction for all Iowans that care about integrity in the election process.”
The 12 page memo outlines exactly what the department will provide and how the secretary’s office will be allowed to use the database.
The secretary of state’s office has been seeking access to the database since at least last August, when Schultz said publicly that SAVE could be used to verify the citizenship of more than 1,000 registered Iowa voters who may not be U.S. citizens.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which has sued the Secretary of State’s Office over its voter fraud efforts, called the agreement a “significant and highly concerning development” in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.