Schultz must clarify election rules to protect voting rights

At least three registered voters were temporarily turned away from an urban precinct in Des Moines Tuesday because they did not have photo identification.


So-called “Voter ID” is a controversial policy being pushed in many states across the country that critics contend is a deliberate attempt by conservatives to disenfranchise poor voters of color, seniors, and students.

New election rules issued by Schultz’s office after Voter ID legislation stalled at the Iowa statehouse have been criticized as overly broad and confusing because they state that poll workers may ask voters to show ID if the voter has had their right to vote challenged or is not known by precinct election officials.

CCI Action Fund staff found themselves thrust into the role of election monitors Tuesday night after CCI Action Fund member Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs called the CCI Action Fund statewide headquarters Tuesday afternoon stating that he had been turned away from Des Moines Precinct 35 for not having a photo ID, even though he was a registered voter and not required under Iowa law to show ID.

“I told them that we don’t have a voter ID law in Iowa and what they’re doing is against the law,” Jorgensen-Briggs said.

CCI Action Fund staff filed a complaint with the county auditor’s office.  Several hours later, the Des Moines NAACP called the CCI Action Fund office with two more complaints at the same precinct, located at the John Grubb YMCA community center on the near-north side of Des Moines.

All three voters were eventually allowed to vote after Polk County Deputy Auditor Carl Wiederaenders personally intervened to instruct poll workers that they could not turn away registered voters for failing to produce ID.

Last month, state Senator Tom Courtney questioned Secretary Schultz’s use of federal Help America Vote Act money to pay for a probe of alleged voter fraud in Iowa.

“Voter ID is not required in the state of Iowa and it’s time for Secretary Schultz to drop his witch hunt for voter fraud that doesn’t exist,” said Adam Mason, CCI Action Fund’s statewide policy organizing director.  “The real way to preserve the integrity of our electoral process is with universal voter registration and campaign finance reform.  People in, money out.”


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