Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is appealing a judge’s decision that cleared the way for election officials to offer non-English voting materials to the public.
Under Polk County District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg's June 28 ruling, Iowa counties are allowed, at their discretion, to provide citizens with voting materials (including ballots, voter-registration forms, and absentee ballot request forms) in languages other than English. The decision dissolved a 15-year-old injunction that had blocked Iowa counties from printing the forms in other languages. Former U.S. Representative Steve King was among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against then Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro, which led to the injunction in 2008.
The court’s recent ruling stemmed from a lawsuit the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa filed in 2021 to challenge the state’s application of the English Language Reaffirmation Act to election materials.
The act requires that all political documents from the state “shall be in the English language” unless the materials are deemed “necessary to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.” LULAC argued, and Judge Rosenberg agreed, that voting is a constitutional right, and language should not be a barrier to citizens trying to exercise that right.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned the use of any “test or device” to deny individuals the right to vote, including any requirement that a potential voter “demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter.”
Our elections work best when eligible voters are able to receive honest and truthful election information in a language they understand. Attorney General Brenna Bird needs to stop being a barrier to election access and do the right thing and drop her appeal. Give all citizens the constitutional right to participate freely in Iowa elections.
Top photo of Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird first published on the attorney general's official Facebook page.