No Brainer: Victims’ Rights Amendment Could be a Winner for Iowa Candidates

Marsy’s Law for Iowa releases survey showing strong support for legislation
Earlier this week, a group supporting a constitutional amendment promoting victims rights, released a pretty compelling survey of Iowa voters. The group, Marsy’s Law for Iowa, surveyed 500 voters, working with Public Opinion Strategies, one of the nation’s largest and most respected political polling firms.
The results are striking. 85% of Iowans support elevating rights of crime victims into the constitution, including 88% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 86% of unaffiliated voters. In our polarized electorate, it’s hard to get more than 80% of both parties to agree on anything, let alone an amendment to the state constitution. It also cuts across gender lines as 80% of men and 90% of women support it.
Why pass a constitutional amendment? Iowa already gives constitutional rights to those charged with crimes. Marsy’s Law seeks to put rights of the victims of those crimes alongside the accused. And while this seems like a simple argument, there is a significant fight taking place in the legislature to pass this language and put it on the ballot for Iowans to choose.
Just because the support for this language is extremely high doesn’t mean it is a voting issue for every voter in Iowa. Just fewer than half of voters say support or opposition to Marsy’s Law would be a factor in their support for legislators, but that’s enough for Iowa candidates to take notice. With a good campaign running in support of this issue, candidates in both parties would be wise to steer clear of opposing the 85% of Iowans who agree with Marsy’s Law.
From the Marsy’s Law release:

“There are few issues that come before the state legislature with such unified, overwhelming support from Iowans as Marsy’s Law. The majority of Iowans support putting the rights of crime victims right alongside the rights of the accused in our state’s Constitution,” said Tiffany Allison, crime victim and founder of Soaring Hearts Foundation. “The time has come for our state to treat victims with dignity and respect and to take the next step and secure their rights permanently.”

The poll, conducted in late January, found that only 11 percent of respondents opposed Marsy’s Law for Iowa. There is also broad support of Marsy’s Law in Iowa regardless of gender.  Additional findings show that the voting behavior of Iowans will be impacted by a legislator’s position on the amendment (see attached slides).

Significant support for Marsy’s Law proponents:

·       45 percent of Iowans say their legislators’ support FOR Marsy’s Law will affect how they vote in the election
·       Among those Iowans, 84 percent would be MORE LIKELY to vote for legislators who SUPPORT Marsy’s Law

Opposition for Marsy’s Law opponents:

·       48 percent of Iowans say their legislators’ opposition to Marsy’s Law will affect how they vote in the election
·       Among those voters, 87.5 percent of Iowans would be LESS LIKELY to vote for legislators who OPPOSE Marsy’s Law

“We live in a polarized political environment, but putting victims’ rights into Iowa’s constitution enjoys huge bipartisan support,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion), one of the bill’s House co-sponsors. “

Marsy’s Law for Iowa legislation, which has passed the House and Senate Judiciary committees, would ensure victims would have the right to notification of all proceedings as well as be guaranteed the right to be heard at every step of the process. They would be empowered to have input on plea deals and to be notified of any release or escape of the convicted.

“When 82 percent of Democrats join with 88 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Independents, you know Iowa is ready to support crime victims. You just don’t see that kind of universal support for most issues,” said Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), another House co-sponsor. (see attached slide)

Currently, Iowa is only one of 15 states that does not have constitutional protections for victims. To amend the Iowa Constitution, a bill must pass two consecutive general assemblies before it goes to the ballot for Iowans to vote.
Marsy’s Law for Iowa is a grassroots coalition committed to giving victims of crime equal constitutional rights and protections in our state. Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family had no idea he had been released on bail. For more information, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.