Iowa Judge Issues Injunction Against Voter Suppression Rules

In Iowa, Judge Mary Pat Gunderson issued a temporary injunction on Friday to stay the implementation of the swing state’s new voter suppression rules. The rules, which included regulations to verify citizenship, were pushed through by Secretary of State Matt Schultz and passed earlier this summer through an emergency rulemaking process.

Gunderson’s ruling does not directly address the merits of the new voter rules, but in her decision the judge said the rules “have in fact created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process,” and “have created fear that new citizens will lose their right to vote and/or be charged with a felony and caused some qualified voters to feel deterred from even registering to vote.” The Judge’s ruling blocks the Secretary of State from moving forward in investigating the citizenship status of more than 3,500 voters.

“The court concludes the harm that granting the termporary injunction may prevent outweighs the harm that may result from denying it,” Gunderson wrote in her 12-page ruling.

The legal complaint against the rules was filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa staff attorney on the case, said in a statement: “We believe that every qualified, eligible Iowan should be free to exercise their most profound right of citizenship, the right to vote. This decision ensures that those rights will be protected while our case is proceeding, and that no Iowan, regardless of their Latino heritage, regardless of their status as new U.S. citizens, will have to wonder what it will cost them to vote this coming election.”

Media Resources: ACLU Statement 9/15/12; Chicago Tribune 9/14/12; Reuters 9/14/12; DesMoinesRegister.com 9/14/12

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