Office of the Iowa Secretary of State Files Amendments to Non-Citizen Registration Rules
Matt Schultz
Secretary of State
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319
Iowa Secretary of State Seal
Chad Olsen (515) 242-6235

Office of the Iowa Secretary of State Files Amendments to Non-Citizen Registration Rules

(DES MOINES, Iowa)--In July of this year, the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State filed two rules setting out the process to be used when contacting non-citizens who had illegally registered to vote or had illegally voted in a prior election. The rules were filed using the regular rule-making process and were also filed emergency due to the proximity of the General Election. The Office was also working to obtain access to a database from the federal Department of Homeland Security to verify that potential non-citizens were, in fact, non-citizens.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office was led to believe that access to the federal data was imminent, and due to the proximity of the upcoming general election, every effort was made to complete the process as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The opponents of the rules immediately sought an injunction to prevent the rules from being implemented.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller held a joint press conference with Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to explain and defend the rules, as well as the importance of Iowa gaining access to the database to verify the citizenship status of more than 3500 potential non-citizens who had registered to vote.

With the tremendous amount of public attention on these two administrative rules, the Office has received a significant amount of input. As a result, the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State has filed amendments to its rules, through the normal rulemaking process, incorporating much of the feedback received over the past few months.

The rules established the parameters for a complaint form that required individuals to provide their name and contact information before complaints would be considered by the Office. This rule did not replace Iowa Code section 48A.14, the method by which citizens can challenge a voter registration record. The misinformation campaign led by the opponents of the rules created confusion over the purpose of this form. The Office believes that existing procedures are sufficient for citizens to voice complaints to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office through its Voter Fraud Hotline (888-SOS-VOTE), or to local county auditors, and is removing the complaint rule.

The rules will be amended to clarify the database being referenced is the federal Department of Homeland Security database, and the process the Office will use to contact potential non-citizen registrants. Significantly, the length of time provided registrants to respond to a request from the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State has been extended from 14 to 30 days. There will also be a second request, with an additional 30 days to respond if no response is received from the first letter. Furthermore, any registrant receiving a letter from the Office requesting verification of citizenship status can request more time, as needed, to comply with the request.

Removing the complaint form rule, clarifying the non-citizen registrant rule, and greatly extending the time for identified registrants to reply are amendments to the original filing that address the bulk of public concerns raised.

Secretary Schultz commented, “The tremendous amount of public attention and input has been helpful in fine-tuning the original administrative rules filed this summer. As Attorney General Miller and I said earlier this year, these rules are about striking a balance between the integrity of our election process and the rights of individual voters. I believe the amendments our office has filed strengthen that balance.”

Administrative Rule