By Alex Schuman
Iowa's Secretary of State Matt Schultz, R-Ia, says he's on a mission to protect Iowa's election system from fraudulent voters.
As part of that effort, Schultz wants to change the rules that govern Iowa's registration system to make it easier to purge out unlawful voters.
On Thursday afternoon at a public hearing, voters came together to fight the purge.
"Why is there hate against us?" asked Jose Gutierrez, a Des Moines resident. Gutierrez argued, along with dozens of others, that members of the Latino community feel targeted by Schultz's new proposal.
One of the changes suggested allows a search of voter registration lists to find possible non-citizens trying to vote illegally. Anyone deemed a possible non-citizen then gets red flagged, and will receive letters in the mail asking them to prove their citizenship in order to vote.
"It's ridiculous," said Mary Campos, who lives in Des Moines and teaches citizenship classes.
"I know everybody's talking about immigrants, but I'm not an immigrant," said Araceli Good. "I was born and raised here, but because my name is Latino, I'm now under that screen. I don't think that's right."
Dozens came to locations in Des Moines and communicated from across Iowa via video conference to voice their concerns to the Secretary of State's lawyer.
"There was another group of people who had lists back in the 30s and 40s, and they were Nazis," said Adam Mason via video from another Des Moines location.
Here were some of the concerns repeated most often:
- People do not have enough time to gather the paperwork to prove their citizenship
- The letters themselves will intimidate voters
- The policy makes the voting process too complicated and discouraging
"It's going to be harder for auditors," said Jo Rod, an Ames poll worker. "It's going to make it harder for poll workers to do their job. It's gonna cause more provisional ballots, which take 20 minutes to fill out."
"It's voter suppression," she said.
Only two people who delivered comments favored parts of Schultz's changes. He's already adjusted the proposal once, and his lawyer says he will consider today's comments before moving forward.