Inaccurate Iowa felony list impacts voters

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Two voter advocacy groups are threating the state of Iowa with a lawsuit, saying officials are violating the National Voter Registration Act.

The Brennan Center for Justice and the League of Women Voters of Iowa are calling out the Iowa Secretary of State, Paul Pate for rejected ballots from people misidentified as felons.

Woodbury County Auditor, Pat Gill says this has been a problem in Siouxland for years, “It the 23 years that I’ve been here we’ve been at odds with the secretary of states office over the accuracy of that list. It just doesn’t seem like the Governor’s Office or the Secretary of States office has the ability to come up with an accurate list.”

Iowa is one of two states in the nation that doesn’t allow a convicted felon to vote, but Gill says for years his office refused the state’s list of felons due to all of the inaccuracies.

“We basically were forced into using the felon list, but it continues to be plagued with issues. From the court system, data input errors occur all the time,” says Gill.

While some voters are being misidentified as felons, Gill says others who are felons aren’t on the list.

“If you’ve been convicted of a felony in another state you can come here and register and we’re not going to know about it,” says Gill.

With so many errors, some Iowan’s believe the list shouldn’t impact one’s right to vote at all.

Iowa resident, Dave Curry says, ‘You have people that have served their time I think those people should have a right to express their opinions through votes.”

Iowa resident, Greg Guelcher says, “Once you do your time you should be able to participate in electing the people who will oversee your life.”

It’s an idea Governor Kim Reynolds tried to enact this past legislative session, but her effort to amend Iowa’s constitution and restore voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences stalled in the state Senate.

“We take a person’s right to vote very seriously here so we want to make sure that everybody who is eligible to vote is able to do so,” says Gill.

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