On Monday, Secretary of State Matt Schultz appeared before the Administrative Rules Committee to discuss the need for the rules that were filed by his office earlier this year on both an emergency basis and through the regular rule-making process. Sarah Reisetter, Elections Director for the Iowa Secretary of State, and Jeff Thompson from the Iowa Attorney General’s office also accompanied Secretary Schultz at the committee meeting.
Schultz explained that the new rule resulted from discussions between his office and the federal government concerning the state’s request to access the federal government’s immigration and citizenship database, SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification and Entitlements).
Schultz sought access to the database after learning that more than 3,500 non-citizens may have registered to vote in Iowa, and that 1208 of those individuals voted in the 2010 election. The list was generated from DOT records of non-citizens who had obtained a driver’s license in the State of Iowa, and provided their driver’s license number when registering to vote.
“Access to the SAVE database will allow our office to verify whether those individuals are non-citizens or if they have become citizens since applying for their driver’s license. You must be a citizen of the United States in order to vote in our elections, and I have a duty as the Secretary of State and chief commissioner of elections to safeguard the integrity of elections in Iowa,” stated Schultz.
ARC 0272C was implemented to establish a process to communicate with those individuals who remain positively identified as non-citizens after comparison with the federal government’s immigration and citizenship database.
Schultz continued, “The new process will actually increase due process for individuals whose registration has come into question by requiring the Secretary of State’s Office to make two written attempts to verify the individual’s non-citizenship status, before forwarding information to county auditors for further investigation, a possible challenge and removal.
I believe it is very important to note that under the Iowa Code it is not the Secretary of State who has the authority to cancel voter registrations, but the local county auditors. As the Secretary of State I have access to resources that can assist county auditors in their efforts to maintain integrity in their voter registration systems, but I also want to guarantee that the information provided to auditors is as accurate as possible. That is why timely access to the SAVE program is so important and valuable, and why the rules were issued both on an emergency basis and through the regular method.”
The Secretary also pointed out that the new complaint rule requires the complainant to provide a name and contact information, and was implemented to formalize and document complaints received by the Office, contradicting statements by critics that the Secretary had created a new process for individuals to file anonymous complaints and challenges.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
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