A lawsuit that challenges the powers of the Iowa Secretary of State is advancing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU-Ia) and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) both say Secretary of State Matt Schultz violated the law in July 2012.
The groups claim that Schultz lacked legal authority to pass emergency rules for voting a few months before the November general election. The lawsuit claims that the emergency rules infringed upon the exercise of the right to vote.
Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg has denied Schultz’s request to dismiss saying the lawsuit may move forward.
According to SFGate.com
“The judge said in a ruling Saturday that since there is nothing to stop the secretary of state from attempting to pass voting rules again prior to an election, the court must hear the case and resolve the issues.
“If Schultz refiles these emergency rules before a future election, the same issues will arise of whether he abused the emergency rulemaking process, exceeded his statutory authority, and violated the right to vote,” Rosenberg wrote.
“The alleged impact of the emergency rules on the right to vote is clearly a matter of public importance,” Rosenberg said in his opinion.
If you’re wondering what is all the fuss about, here’s some additional context from The Brad Blog from August, 2012:
In an echo of Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his incredibly partisan Sec. of State Ken Detzner’s disastrous recent attempt to purge “potential non-citizens” from Sunshine State voting rolls, Iowa’s incredibly partisan Sec. of State Matt Schultz issued “emergency rules” at the end of July to help kick off his own “non-citizen” voter purge in the Hawkeye State.
That effort was met by a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on Wednesday, charging that Schultz’ rules were issued improperly in an abuse of his office.
According to AP, the new rules call for suspected non-citizens to be identified through an unknown process created by Schultz without oversight or explanation which, his office says, would be “contrary to the public interest.”
If, through this magical, unoverseeable process, created with no public input, voters are believed to be ineligible to vote as non-citizens, “Schultz’s office will send notice telling them they may be illegally registered, a class D felony, and should cancel their registrations immediately. They would be given 14 days to dispute the notice; if they fail to do so, Schultz’s office would take steps to remove them from the list.”
Another “emergency rule” issued by the Iowa’s Secretary Schultz, according to the ACLU, removes the requirement of signing a sworn statement when making an allegation of voter fraud. It should be a fun election this year in Iowa!
Schultz has long called for polling place Photo ID restrictions in Iowa, despite the dearth of evidence that anybody has ever committed voter fraud by in-person polling place impersonation — the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by such measures — in the state. Last year he sponsored a bill to require polling place Photo ID, but, thankfully, the measure was blocked by Democrats in the state Senate.
Despite all of that, when the Iowa GOP ran their “First in the Nation” Presidential Caucuses in January, when they were able to create any rules they wanted for the proceedings, they chose not to require their own voters to present a photo ID before participating in the caucuses. Go figure.
For additional background, click on the links to previous Blog for Iowa articles on the topic: